New Map Shows How to Travel Across America Without a Car

by , 02/05/14

car, bus, rail, intercity transit routes, Amtrak, Greyhound, American Intercity Bus Riders Association

Many Americans travel to Europe or Asia and are amazed at the ease of traversing long distances via rail or bus. But when it comes to the land of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, it seems impossible to navigate the nation without a private automobile. Is it even possible to hop on a train or bus and realistically get from East Coast to West Coast, not Jack Kerouac “On the Road” style but in some level of comfort and convenience? Turns out, it is. The American Intercity Bus Riders Association has created a map that shows all the intercity transit routes in America, which includes routes from Amtrak, Greyhound and other bus carriers.

Image © Scott Allen Sparks

For example, it is possible to take the train from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, California. It will take a long time. But it is possible. It will take more than 60 hours one way — nearly 18 hours from Washington Union Station to Chicago Union Station on the Capitol Limited and another 43 hours from Chicago to Los Angeles Union Station on the Southwest Chief. Compare that to a five hour nonstop flight or 38 hour car trip from D.C. to L.A. and you can see why many people choose to fly or drive.

However train travel definitely has its allure – our Editor-in-Chief Jill Fehrenbacher has traveled from New York City to California via Amtrak many times, and she says the scenery is beautiful. The trip takes about three days, and you can rent a private sleeper car.

Until the United States has an advanced rail network of high-speed and commuter trains comparable to Europe and Asia, flying or driving will be the more convenient option for most commuters. But this map could come in handy for those adventurous types riding the rails and boarding the bus.

+ American Intercity Bus Riders Association

Via Grist

Lead image via American Intercity Bus Riders Association

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  1. Carey Woodings II April 4, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    And it will only cost as much as a cheap car in fares…

  2. Lois Kidd April 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    This is fun time to see in between with out you driving.

  3. yellowcat December 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I have traveled all around the U.S. by Amtrak on a leisurely vacation. North route through Glacier, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Vermont, D.C. Then the next year from Seattle through California, Arizona, Texas (flew to Miami as Amtrak hasn’t gone between New Orleans and Florida since Katrina. Saw Miami and the Everglades and then north to St Augustine, over to St. Petersburg then north to Charleston, Savannah and then North Carolina. I stopped along the way to spend time in cities I wanted to see…i.e. Austin, Santa Barbara, Monterey,etc. Great trip. Used public transportation in cities as much as I could. Rarely rented a car.

  4. Alex Brideau III December 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I can see why someone would want to fly from LA to DC, but to say driving between the two cities only takes 38 hours is a bit disingenuous. That figure assumes no stops for food, gas, or lodging. Add those factors in and you’re looking at about the same travel time as a train trip. And from my experience driving and railing between these two cities, taking the train is the less stressful option.

  5. Pat Cooksey October 31, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Great, thanks for posting an unreadable map, why even bother using such a low-rez graphic.
    Who is in charge around this place, no one?

  6. Justin Gomolka October 31, 2014 at 3:35 am

    One should also check out is interested in bus and rail travel in the United States.

  7. st_lawson June 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Took some digging, but here’s the high-res PDF version:

  8. Rita Marsh-Birch February 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I wish Amtrak would reestablish the track from New Orleans to Tallahassee, FL. It was destroyed by Katrina and still has not been replaced.

  9. darlynnj February 10, 2014 at 5:18 am

    How would I go about getting a detailed map that I can read?

  10. marizel February 6, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I wish that Amtrak would expand their AutoTrain service to include a cross country run instead of only being available from DC to Orlando FL. I think it would be great to be able to take the train to California, but still have my car with me to drive when I get there!

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