A Greyhound bus departs in Seattle. (Photo by the author)

Greyhound Bus Lines will restore cross-border service as soon as November 8th, according to new schedules posted on the company website. It will be the first time in 19 months that the company has provided cross-border service between Canada and the United States due to pandemic travel suspensions on non-essential travel. The company is restoring service between several cross-border city pairs, including on the Seattle-Vancouver corridor.

Greyhound’s service restoration is in response to policy changes by the Biden administration announced earlier this month, which outlined forthcoming cross-border allowances for non-citizens and non-immigrants. Under the stipulated policy by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), non-essential travel across land and sea borders will be allowed for fully vaccinated travelers beginning in November. This is in alignment with forthcoming non-essential international air travel allowances to the United States by foreign travelers on November 8th.

According to Greyhound’s online schedule, there will be two daily roundtrips between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia with trips departing from Seattle at 1:50am and 3:45pm and from Vancouver at 6:25am and 8:25pm. Travel time is estimated at four to four-and-a-half hours. The first date is already sold out from Seattle and following days are somewhat patchy, but tickets are as low as $19 each way. Other cross-border corridors that Greyhound will be serving are Toronto-Buffalo and Montréal-New York City/Boston.

While all passengers will be required to present a passport or other acceptable travel documents to cross the border, special Covid protocols differ slightly between the two countries.

Canada is requiring foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated and present documentation verifying vaccination status. Foreign travelers are also subject to pre-entry testing requirements and submission of electronic travel plan documentation. The protocols outline that pre-entry testing must be carried out within 72 hours of entry into Canada and conducted using a molecular Covid test (rapid antigen tests are not accepted). Passengers who do not present a valid negative test will not be admitted. The United States, however, has only outlined that foreign travelers be fully vaccinated and present relevant documentation. Additional requirements could be forthcoming to mirror international air travel protocols.

Also consistent with federal law, all passengers are required to wear face masks while riding Greyhound buses and at bus terminals.

For now, Greyhound is the sole cross-border public transit option by land. Amtrak Cascades and Thruway Motorcoach have traditionally provided service as well, but a formal announcement on a date to resume service has not yet been made. A notice on Amtrak Cascades’ website indicates bureaucratic obstacles need to be ironed out before service can restart. “Both countries must agree on protocols for vaccine documentation,” it reads. “We will return Amtrak Cascades service to Vancouver BC when all necessary procedures and approvals are in place. We’ll announce dates as soon as we have them.” When service does resume on Amtrak Cascades between Seattle and Vancouver, it is expected to provide to two daily roundtrips.

As for other Greyhound service, the company continues to offer a full suite of service across Washington and Oregon from Seattle, such as Portland, Yakima, Ellensburg, Spokane, and the Tri-Cities. German-based FlixBus also operates a variety of routes across the region from Seattle and Bellevue and just acquired Greyhound. A third company, OurBus, is operating special service on peak holidays (e.g., Thanksgiving and Christmas) between Seattle and Portland while Amtrak Cascades continues to run three daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland with a fourth by Amtrak Coast Starlight.

As the pandemic resides, additional intercity transit options should improve along the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver megaregion corridor. But for now, regional options remain limited.

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Article Author
Senior Reporter

Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.