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The author is correct that a traffic jam is the most serious problem for bus travel. But rail traffic can also collapse due to technical conditions or because of a strong wind which puts trees on rails. So travellers have to take into account all dangers and calculate their probaility.
In most developed countries, and some developing ones, national passenger rail service, if it is good, is a matter of national pride. For Americans, such an idea simply does not compute. So long distance travel is by air if you can afford it, automobile if you can afford one, and bus for the wretched of the earth.
Texas is just slightly smaller than Germany and France combined. Texas, Arizona and New Mexico collectively are about the size of what you'd call "Western Europe". Yet the populations are a fraction of Western Europe.
I think no comparison between America and Europe can be considered complete without taking into account size and population density. That's why rail works reasonably well in the North East of the US - compact size and lots of people. It has little to do with national pride and everything to do with the economics of when rail works.
I remember a few years ago explaining to an American colleague that the best way to get from a particular UK airport to the city center was by bus. A flicker of panic crossed his face. Buses in the US just aren't part of the mainstream middle-class experience.
In addition to the points mentioned elsewhere, most employees in the US get very limited time off. This means that they're less likely to take a long bus trip if there's a faster option, e.g. by plane.
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Buses do well in the USA when they are clean, pick you up from a safe area of the city, and have a reasonable price. For example, the Boltbus from Bethesda MD to NYC. Greyhound (dirty bus) from bus terminal in dangerous area of city to dangerous area of another city is terrible.
The differences between Germany and the USA are quite stark. The USA has done little to instil a sense of pride in its people who are essentially ill-disciplined and spoilt. Vast hordes of poor, ravaged by alcoholism and drug addiction, find they have no other method of travelling great distances except via Greyhound, as it is cheap. The USA is a large and disparate country and the State has lost the heft and the people's trust and support. It has become, by and large, a country where everyman is for himself, potentiated by the wide disparities in wealth and health, much of it self-inflicted.
Germans take pride in their country and themselves. Good behaviour is not frowned upon and the cost of travel is more expensive, excluding a certain group of persons, unable to afford such luxury.
Britain and the USA could learn a thing or two from them!
Ok, I am from Germany and every time I pay 250 USD per night in a middle class hotel in 2nd tier cities like Austin or Minneapolis I think "well, at least there are no strange/dodgy/dangerous people here". What I want to say is that it is not all bad in the US as it is.
In the U.S. the buses are faster than the trains. Which tells you about the trains.
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