Alternative Ways to Travel

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Alternative Ways to Travel

Medjet Travel Assistance Tip –  In a time that air travel has become an expensive hassle, train travel is limited, and gas prices are skyrocketing, it’s not a surprise that bus travel is booming.

And the numbers are impressive.

Intercity motorcoach industry provided nearly more than 700 million passenger trips—that’s 76.1 billion passenger miles last year. Compare that to 717 million trips on U.S airlines, and 28 million passengers on Amtrak in the same period.

And why? For starters, the price is right.

Curbside bus operators, like Boltbus and Megabus, have contributed to the bus industry’s growth with low cost fares (some tickets cost as little as $1.50) and an on-board experience that often includes free Wi-Fi.

But what about bus safety?

With ridership up, so too are high-profile bus accidents, many of them fatal.

Driver fatigue, lack of training, and mechanical failures have all contributed to bus accidents. There has been growing awareness at government enforcement agencies. In 2012, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has ramped up bus inspection and last May their inspectors shut down 26 companies on a single day.

To be fair, traveling by bus still remains a safe method of transportation. The disconnect, however, lies, in the ongoing legislative debate for safety standards in motorcoaches. At one point, The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011 called for a series of safety measures, including seat belts, strengthened roofs and glazing windows. At the same time, the Bus Uniform Standards and Enhanced Safety bill called for more empirical studies by the DOT before making any mandates, and bus operators would have had at least 18 years to retrofit their vehicles.

The latest version of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, which actually became law, only calls for more studies and recommendations, but little concrete action.

Even the movement for seatbelts—which the National Transportation Safety Board recommended back in the 1960s—has yet to become a requirement for buses already on the road. New coaches have them, including Greyhound and Megabus, but the bus industry continues to argue that retrofitting existing vehicles costs too much money.

Bottom line: I still maintain that bus travel is a viable and affordable option, especially if you’re traveling under 400 miles. But don’t let convenience get in the way of common sense. You have a right to ask any operator about their license, driver training and safety inspections/violations; In fact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the DOT, even has a SaferBus app that lets you look up that information before you book your ticket. And, if your bus comes with seatbelts, use them.