Last week I was stressed when searching for a way get to travel from Columbia, Missouri to Oklahoma City without breaking the bank. I quickly realized that traveling in the United States is much harder to organize after experiencing the European Rail System. America has interstate freeways but no public rail transportation. If you don't have a car and/or don't want to pay obscene airline prices for last-minute travel, what other options do you have?
My situation in Columbia is that I am two hours west from the St. Louis Airport and 2.5 hours east of Kansas City Airport. The monopolized MoX shuttle to either airport from Columbia costs at least $50 each way before you add on the price of the airline ticket. There's the Megabus, but it only runs once a day and goes to select cities like Chicago.
I recently found out from an international student that there is a Greyhound bus station in Columbia. Who knew?! I did some research and found that the Greyhound Bus Line has a surprising amount of stations and scheduling options, not to mention a very reasonable price. I ended up spending $84 total on my last-minute, one-way ticket. However, everyone keeps asking me about the quality of travel on the ol' Greyhound Bus lines. After traveling on the night bus from Columbia to OKC, I would rate my overall travel experience an 8 out of 10. Just like any other form of public travel, the bus could be loud at times, whether it was a crying baby or a person answering a cell phone. It was nothing that a headphones and an ipod couldn't appease. Second, comfort should be evaluated. Seats are first-come, first-serve. If you can score a pair of seats to spread out in, or a window to lean up against for a night trip, you are set. Otherwise the comfort is equal to the quality found on an airplane or other coach buses.
Next time you find yourself in a last-minute travel situation, I recommend considering a Greyhound bus line. It's not the Eurorail but it's the closest thing to it in the US.