Over the years bus travel has declined in Pennsylvania as routes have slowly fallen by the wayside. Mid size towns such as Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Franklin have lost their intercity bus stops.
The lack of amenities and information for bus passengers, poor coordination with Amtrak and the difficulty of buying a bus ticket online all contribute to the stigma and unpopularity of bus travel in most of Pennsylvania. Additionally many rural bus stops are unmarked and thus lightly used, its not unheard of for a once a day bus to pass by without stopping for flagging customers.
Despite these setbacks bus travel can still get you to far more places than air travel for a fraction of the price. A survey of the 14 commercial serviced airports in Pennsylvania on Kayak shows a typical day before price for a one way ticket from Philadelphia to be about $500, compare that to $68 for a Philadelphia to Erie Greyhound Bus Ticket. The travel time to some smaller airports such as Franklin can take from 7 to 12 hours.
For a few major cities and college communities, bus service is alive and well. Megabus for example allows you to buy a Philadelphia to Pittsburgh ticket well in advance for as low as $13. Bolt Bus serves Philadelphia and competes with Amtrak and Megabus for the Northeast Corridor while the Chinatown bus companies Top Bus and Great Wall serve State College and York from New York City. These companies, which emphasize internet ticketing and express service have done quite well, even if some of their stops leave you off on the edge of town.
Some gaps in the intercity network have been filled by local transit agencies, offering high end commuter bus service during the weekday peak hours. These buses often include real time location, wifi access, outlets, cup holders, bike racks and high back seats.
Perhaps the key for restoring routine bus travel in Pennsylvania lies in the ability for transportation providers to modernize business practices. Could rural shared ride services learn something from Uber? PENNDOT also has a role here. California has managed to coordinate bus services with Amtrak offering timed connections and thru ticketing. Some of these connections already exist, for example from the Harrisburg Transportation Center local and intercity buses serve State College, Williamsport, Lebanon, Hershey Park, Gettysburg and York but there is no single online resource available to book these trips.