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Alternatives to train (bus services?)

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Alternatives to train (bus services?)

Hi everyone,

Not sure if this is the best place to post this, but it appears to me the most appropriate. My brother and I are travelling France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy in 2 weeks time. We plan to use rail as our main form of transport. We haven't purchased a Eurail pass or the sort, as we just plan to point to point it as we go. But not all of our desired locations appear to be on the rail network, so I'm wondering what the alterative modes of transport are. The most obvious one that comes to mind is bus. But I have done a quick Google search and I can't seem to find any bus services that operate in the same way as say D-Bahn, or Tren-Italia etc. It only brings up metro (city) bus information.

Could someone please provide me with companies that offer a good service at a reasonable price for bus transports between cities? Especially ones that may be difficult to get to on a train service. (Eg. Annecy, France)

I'm also open to any tips for making sure when we do travel by rail, how to get the best price ticket available. Thanks in advance!


Imperia, Italy
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for Italian Riviera
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1. Re: Alternatives to train (bus services?)

To find the fragmented local bus services, the most effective way is to use the language of the country you are travelling in, and search for times. So for Geneva-Annecy - search on <Geneve Annecy bus horaires>. The first result is for the Froissard company which runs that particular service.

Do the same in Italy using <autobus orari>. In Switzerland's integrated system, buses are included in the www.sbb.ch website

In directions other than Geneva, Annecy is reasonably served by trains.

There are several main ways to save money by train. By far the best is to book a long time in advance, but you're too late for that. In Italy, save money by taking Regional trains or Intercity trains rather than Freccia trains. In Germany and Switzerland, there are cards you can buy which may save you money depending on how much travelling you are doing in particular areas.

Mannheim, Germany
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2. Re: Alternatives to train (bus services?)

There are no central bus networks operating in the way train authorities do. In germany and Switzerland, it does not matter whether your destination is ona train network or not - if not, there wil be a bus connection tot he next train station and these buses' schedules are just as much a part of bahn.de or sbb.ch software as train schedules.

In Italy and France, there are occasional fragmented long distance buses connecting gaps in the train network which are not cooperating with rail schedules, but you really need to look for concrete relations and city pairs.

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3. Re: Alternatives to train (bus services?)

Networks of Inter City bus routes competing with rail routes really do not exist much in Western Europe outside the UK and Ireland, although a number of cross-border services do run under the 'Eurolines' banner and a few domestic networks are starting to emerge, e.g. in Germany. Buses tend to be regarded as an adjunct to the train service.

Of course, on some lesser-used lines in France the 'train' service sometimes turns out to be a bus anyway!

Edited: 10:31 am, July 24, 2013
Albufeira, Portugal
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4. Re: Alternatives to train (bus services?)

In France, the best way to find regional and local bus services is to go to the website of the départment. These are by numbers eg www.cg33.fr is the website for the Gironde department. First step is to put a town name into Google and look for the postcode which will be five digits eg 33456. The first two digits eg 33 will be the department number.

So now go to the department website. The address format is always the same www.cgxx.fr where xx is the department number.

In the website you need to look for 'transports' or 'se déplacer' and eventually you will find some information. Some départments eg Gironde, Hérault, Languedoc - Rousillion and Haute Pyrenées are very good, others are dire. In almost all cases the information will only be in French. The good news is that many départments now charge a very low flat fare of 1 or 2 Euros for any bus journey, so you can cover some fair distance for next to nothing.

Some regions eg Aquitaine where I am at this moment, have longer distance buses that have replaced closed down railway lines. Those timetables are often included within the SNCF timetables and in many cases SNCF tariffs apply.

Do not expect to find any buses operating in the evenings or at weekends in many areas. Even on weekdays a lot of smaller towns have only two or three buses a day other than school buses.

I hope that helps.

Edited: 2:17 pm, July 24, 2013
5. Re: Alternatives to train (bus services?)

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