Wanderu’s Site Lets You Research And Book Bus And Rail Travel

If you’re a traveler, then you’re a Kayaker. Not a paddler, but a devotee of Kayak.com, the airline (and hotel and rental car) search engine that makes booking the lowest fares a breeze. If you’re a traveler, then you’ve also probably cursed the fact that a similar site doesn’t exist for bus and rail travel.

We can now count our blessings, thanks to Wanderu. According to Thrillist, this ingenious domestic search engine offers “hundreds of routes, operators, and schedules into a free, trip-aggregating database.” You can even make bookings, which is like a giant gift from the Travel Gods.

As soon as Wanderu or a competitor makes this info available for international travel, budget travelers won’t have anything left to complain about – except maybe the quality of their guesthouse banana pancakes.

[Photo credit: Flickr user DavidDennisPhotos.com]

Australia rail travel a bargain for backpackers

Queensland Rail Travel (QR) provides Urban and Interurban rail and bus services throughout South East Queensland in Australia. Looking to deliver a greater number of international tourists to the state’s regional tourism hotspots, QR is offering special savings for overseas backpackers who want to travel between multiple locations

“Backpackers travel to several different locations up the east coast and this new offer gives them the flexibility of being able to move from point-to-point in a quick and convenient way,” Queensland Rail Travel general manager, Max Kruse said.

International visitors who have a valid hostel or backpacker card can save up to 40 per cent off the normal rail travel fare for point-to-point journeys on Queensland Rail Travel’s long distance services.

“Queensland Rail Travel’s network provides the gateway to all the tourism hotspots including the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast, the Whitsundays, Townsville and Cairns,” said Kruse.

Rail travel passes are also available for backpackers who want to travel between Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne allowing travelers the flexibility to hop on and off east coast trains over a six-month period.

With five World Heritage-listed sites and other extraordinary places in between, Queensland has lot to offer. Traveling in comfort onboard QR’s traditional and modern trains can make rail travel all the better.

Queensland Rail Photo

VIA Rail Canada brings back bike trains for summer season

Traveling with your two-wheeled best friend just got a whole lot easier. Since 2007, VIA Rail Canada has provided seasonal bike racks on select VIA Rail departures, as part of its mandate to provide more environmentally sustainable, affordable passenger transit. Now, the racks will be available yearound, and increased baggage cars mean that cyclists can connect to even more cycling destinations.

By taking VIA (Canada’s national rail service), you can access thousands of miles of cycling paths running from Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Quebec City, London, Windsor, Jonquière, and Senneterre. Popular cycling trips include Quebec’s La Route Verte (2,671 miles), the Greater Niagara Circle Route (86 miles), Ottawa’s Capital Parkway Network (136 miles) and Ontario’s Waterfront Trails (559 miles).

Using the bike trains is easy. Check your buddy at the counter for a small fee; VIA staff do the rest, reuniting you on the platform at your destination. For a full listing of VIA’s Bike Train schedules click here.

[Photo credit: Flickr user cycle.nut66]

Survey says: 79% of travelers would pick high speed rail over air travel when possible

In a recent poll of global travelers by SilverRail Technologies, 90% of respondents said they would like to see rail options displayed alongside flights when searching for travel. Rail is suddenly a hot topic (again) as the Obama Administration has pledged $53 billion to create several new high speed rail corridors in the country.

High speed rail is a very realistic alternative in Europe and Asia, but in the US there are very few routes that can currently be replaced by rail transport. When asked whether they would pick rail over air when available:

  • 79% would choose train over plane if high-speed rail options existed.
  • 61% would choose rail over air if the cost was the same or better.

The hassles involved in air travel have also helped increase interest in rail alternatives:

  • 86% of people would accept having the entire time from door-to-door be longer to avoid the process of checking in, security and boarding.
  • 66% would willingly add an hour or more of total travel to their trips to avoid the hassles of long lines, airport security and baggage fees.

Just how bad is the packing situation? Some people actually pack underwear in their laptop bag to reduce the weight of their main bag:

  • 89% of people take action to avoid paying bag fees, planning packing days in advance and stuffing carry-ons to maximum capacity to avoid checking bags.
  • 19% of people surveyed say they pack underwear in a laptop bag to avoid checking bags.
  • 61% are frustrated with extra costs added to airline ticket prices and wanted to be secure that the ticket price they paid is the total price.

And finally, when asked about how air travel has changed in recent years, 72% say waiting in the various lines is the #1 hassle:

  • Waiting in line is the #1 air travel hassle, according to 72% of people.
  • While waiting in line for a pat down, 47 % dream about the easy travel of yesteryear
  • 36% wanted family and friends to be able to accompany them to the gate, an impossibility with air travel

Amtrak ridership up almost 6%, revenue up 9%

Okay, you know how much I like the Acela, so I’m not at all surprised to see that Amtrak has shown solid growth through the 2010 fiscal year, which ended on September 30. More than 28.7 million customers rode the rails, a year-over-year gain of 5.7 percent. Ticket revenue surged 9 percent to $1.7 billion, and Acela ridership, indicating growth in Amtrak‘s upscale offer.

Nonetheless, Amtrak did rely on our tax cash. We chipped in $1.49 billion to cover the railroad’s $3.5 billion in expenses, not to mention another $1.3 billion from the federal stimulus program. The stimulus payout went to finance work on tracks, cars and train stations.

[photo by cliff1066 via Flickr]