Canada is such a vast country that bus travel is perhaps the least desirable way to get from Point A to Point B–especially if time is a factor.
In some parts of the world bus travel is inexpensive but that’s hardly the case in Canada, fuel costs and geography being what they are.
So if bus travel is relatively inefficient and expensive, why would anyone choose to travel by bus?
Sometimes they don’t have a choice–short of renting a car, bus may be the only way to get to more remote communities.
Some people enjoy the camaraderie of bus travel, and others like the hop-on-hop-off convenience, especially if they’ve got the luxury of time.
And some people simply want to stay close to the ground so they can focus on the passing scenery–and Canada has a whole lot of scenery.
Bus service in Canada falls into three broad categories:
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Greyhound Canada is the largest provider of intercity bus transportation in Canada, serving nearly 1,100 locations–many quite isolated. As well, Greyhound offers tour and transit services through corporate partners: Vancouver Island Coach Lines, Grey Goose Bus Lines, Gray Line Tours (Toronto and Ottawa), and Yellow Cab (Edmonton). Greyhound offers a variety of web-only and advance-purchase fares, and provides significant discounts to students, families and seniors. Greyhound also offers service between Buffalo, New York and Toronto.
The Moose Travel Network is another option for cross-country bus travel. Aimed at the independent and budget-conscious backpacking demographic, Moose offers “Jump On, Jump Off” small-coach tours to a range of destinations across Canada. Moose Travel is the largest adventure bus company in Canada with more than 30 tours from coast-to-coast. They route through large cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and also visit back-country wilderness locations.
There are many smaller bus companies that serve particular regions of Canada and many offer airport service. In Nova Scotia, for example, Acadian Bus Lines covers that Atlantic province. In Alberta, Brewster buses whisk locals and tourists in and out of Banff, and Red Arrow connects Calgary and Edmonton. And in BC, Perimeter Transport runs between Vancouver and Whistler, and Tofino Bus–popular with surfers–serves Vancouver Island. Regional service tends to be frequent, efficient and friendly. Start with this list of provincial tourism boards to locate regional carriers.
All of Canada’s larger cities and municipalities offer public transit, although some bus systems are more efficient and sophisticated than others. Visitors should always enquire about discount passes for multi-day travel. (Note: while all airports are served by public transit, when time’s a factor it’s often worth the few extra dollars to use one of the airport shuttles instead.) As well, there are a range of sightseeing bus tours available in all major cities.
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