Long-distance buses usually provide the cheapest way to travel between England and Scotland; fares may be as little as a third of the rail fares for comparable trips and are cheaper if you buy in advance. However, the trip is not as comfortable as by train (no dining cart or carriage, smaller bathrooms, less spacious seats), and travel takes longer. Glasgow to London by bus (nonstop) takes 8 hours, 45 minutes; by train it takes about 5 hours, 30 minutes.
Scotland's bus (short-haul) and coach (long-distance) network is extensive. Bus service is comprehensive in cities, less so in country districts—something to consider if you want to explore really rural areas. Express service links main cities and towns, connecting, for example, Glasgow and Edinburgh to Inverness, Aberdeen, Perth, Skye, Ayr, Dumfries, and Carlisle; or Inverness with Aberdeen, Wick, Thurso, and Fort William. These express services are very fast, and fares are reasonable. Scottish Citylink, National Express, and Megabus are some of the main operators; there are about 20 in all.
The London terminal is Victoria Coach Station for National Express and the London Victoria Greenline Coach Station for Megabus.
There is one class of service, and all buses are nonsmoking.
Royal Mail Post Bus (www.royalmail.com.)
Discounts and Deals
On Scottish Citylink, the Explorer Passes offer complete freedom of travel on all services throughout Scotland. Three permutations give three days of consecutive travel, any 5 days of travel out of 10, or any 8 days of travel in a 16-day period. They're available from Scottish Citylink offices, and cost £35 to £79.
National Express offers discounted seats on buses from London to more than 50 cities in the United Kingdom, including Glasgow and Aberdeen. Tickets range from £8 to £15, but only when purchased online. Megabus (order tickets online), a discount service, has similarly competitive prices between major cities throughout Scotland, including Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness, and Perth.
Those travelers ages 16 to 26 are eligible for 30% reductions with the National Express Coachcard (£10).
Fares and Schedules
Contact Traveline Scotland for information on all public transportation and timetables.
For town, suburban, or short-distance journeys, you buy your ticket on the bus, from a pay box, or from the driver. You need exact change. For longer journeys—for example, Glasgow-Inverness—it's usual (and a good idea; busy routes and times can book up) to reserve a seat and pay at the bus station booking office.
Credit cards and traveler's checks are accepted at most bus stations.
Traveline Scotland (0871/200-2233. www.travelinescotland.com.)
Megabus (0871/266-3333. www.megabus.co.uk.)
National Express (08717/818178. www.nationalexpress.com.)
Scottish Citylink (0871/266-3333. www.citylink.co.uk.)
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