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.
Lead image via American Intercity Bus Riders Association