Now rolling between Canberra and Sydney: a business class bus

By John Walton, May 28 2012
Now rolling between Canberra and Sydney: a business class bus

Would you take a business class bus -- yes, a bus, not an Airbus -- between Canberra and Sydney?

Bus operator Greyhound is betting that enough business travellers will say yes to its new daily Canberra-Sydney 'Platinum Business Class' bus.

Free WiFi Internet, USB and AC power points for each seat, reclining leather seats and a price tag starting at $36 one-way are all ticks in the plus column.

That's just one-third of the price of Sydney-Canberra economy airfares, such as Virgin Australia's $110 and Qantas' asking price of $138.

And Greyhound is quick to tout the benefits of bus over plane.

"The service runs express from city centre to city centre, allowing optimum time efficiency with no cabs to the airport, no queuing to check in and no tarmac delays" says Greyhound Australia's Kevin Lyons.

Greyhound also plays up the ability "to remain 100% connected and productive while they are travelling thanks to the free onboard WiFi and the fact they don’t lose phone reception as you do when you’re flying", a spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

“In short sectors this coach is the ultimate way for busy business people to travel. It’s quick, it’s convenient and you can stay in touch with the world for the whole journey.”

So how long will that journey take? A bit over three hours. 

Leaving Canberra's Jolimont Centre at 6am, the BC903 service is scheduled to reach Sydney's Central Station at 9.15am. It then continues on to Sydney international airport (9.35am) and domestic airport (9.45am) if you've got a connecting international flight.

The 4.30pm departure from Sydney on BC904 gets you into Canberra at 8pm.

That's a rather long day on the bus for a relatively short day in the office -- but perhaps no longer than taking the plane, depending on where in Canberra you're coming from and where in Sydney you're going to.

"The service is designed to allow business people from Canberra to spend a whole day in Sydney," Lyons says.

Also on the downside? The fact that it's a bus makes it subject to traffic delays on the road.

The four-across seating looks a bit cramped (similar 'business-class' style buses in other parts of the world use a much more spacious three-across 1-2 configuration) and the seat pitch of 31 inches is on par with economy class flights.

There's currently just one platinum coach is the fleet for the Canberra-Sydney service, but if the service takes off Greyhound says it will roll out additional buses for Melbourne-Geelong, Sydney-Newcastle, Brisbane to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast to Toowoomba.

For more information:  Greyhound Platinum Business Class

For more news, reviews and the very latest info for business travellers, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

Over to you: assuming a similar on-time record to the airlines, would a 'business class' Canberra-Sydney bus work for you? If not, what would it need to do to win your business away from the airlines?

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

What a great idea!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 29

I don't mind the bus. I've started getting the Murray's bus on Friday evenings for those weekends where I head back to Canberra. Watch a movie and a TV episode or two and you're there.

It's also much easier to get to my house from the city vs the airport.

Alas a 4:30pm departure is far too early and would require me to leave the office at 3:30pm. For me to do a full day in Sydney I catch either a 6pm bus or a 6pm flight.

Coming back to Sydney however - not a chance I'll be on a 5:45am bus. The 7:30am or 8:00am flight is much more palatable.

With the exception of wifi and power (neither of which I'd use), this looks no different to the Murrays services which also have new leather seats and operate much more frequently.

So to summarise: the only way I'd be interested is if the departure times suited my schedule better, and I'd like to see a way where an empty seat could be guaranteed next to you.

12 Apr 2011

Total posts 71

I would love a Business Class bus, but this bus doesn't seem to offer much "Business Class" except for the power and wifi. I would be looking for more spacious seats as the main drawcard.

28 May 2012

Total posts 1

Seems like a great idea. There is so much work I can get done while in trasit now. does anybody know how to book a seat on this service?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Yes, click the link in the article which says "For more information:  Greyhound Platinum Business Class"...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 May 2012

Total posts 30

The idea is fantastic--but in its current form, the only thing that seems to be different between this Greyhound 'platinum' service and the Murrays competition is wifi and power. Agreed that a roomier seating arrangement would be needed to really set it apart.

Also, they might be being quite optimistic with the timetables... heading into Sydney along the M5 on a weekday in peak hour might make it hard to stick to the schedule.

How I wish there was a high speed rail option between Canberra and Sydney!!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 May 2012

Total posts 76

Good idea, they should put on over night sleeper service BNE-SYD / MEL etc

Same as in asia,

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

Try sleeping on an overnight bus between capital cities. Then tell me if that's a good idea or not. 


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

Good to see Greyhound stepping up their services... I did a comparison trip early this year when I thought I'd be moving down there, and Murrays blew Greyhound out of the water.

For me, flying is still quicker and easier for me. It's only half an hour of downtime in the air, which can be a nice time to stare out the window and ponder the day...

Whilst this is a good idea, it is sad to see that in Australia, our modern 1st world country, we are using busses to run shuffle services between cities, rather than a fast rail network like Eurostar or TGV.

And 3 hours city-to-city service is comparable to flying. Consider you must check-in one hour before a flight, so you leave home early to get to the airport. Let's say that total's 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Then its a 30-45 minute flight, you get off the plane, go to the cab rank to find a taxi which takes you to the CBD.

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 181

Good idea although for a 3 hour ride I would like to get proper seats, so that 50+ seater bus would suddenly become 20 seats at most. Why not have Etihad-like business class seats too?


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

I like the idea but I'm uncertain about the practicalities.

1. Legroom: not enough, by the sound of it. 31 inches is as you say airline economy and how useful is that for your laptop when someone reclines their  seat, or even without your elbows nudging the person next to you if you both decide to use your laptops at the same time. If you wnat to be a 'business class' bus service then you need something like business class legroom, not talking about long-haul but more like regional business class.

2. Bumpy roads would surely be a pain if you're trying to use your laptop!

3. Yes it's a third the price of a Virgin Australia economy airfare but how much do you value your time? I don't see those 7 hours spend on the road (both ways) as being fully productive unless you're on the phone a fair bit, I'd rather pay the extra money for an airfare and spend more time actually on the ground doing my job.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 1

I travel Sydney-Canberra-Sydney weekly, down Friday back Sunday. I have used both Murrays and Greyhound. I have also commuted regularly CB-SY-CB for day meetings using Virgin and Qantas. All things considered the time difference is little between air and road; except for winter mornings when Canberra gets fogged in and aircraft cannot get in/out, or the mornings Sydney Air Traffic Control put the aircraft into a holding pattern. The costs between air and road differ greatly as pointed out in other posts.

Agreed Australia would benefit greatly from a high speed rail; but alas the Australian electorate has little appetite for it unless it concerns them directly.

Those points aside and to the point of the post. Murrays is more frequent, every hour on the hour from both Canberra and Sydney than Greyhound, but I have found it more crowded and the smell from the urinal sometimes unbearable. Greyhound is less frequent but offers more space (less crowded) and generally cleaner (no urinal smell). The services are priced more or less the same. Both offer leather reclining seats. Both provide professional, safe services that run, with the occasional exception, on time. I like the WiFi Greyhound offers (saves my data) and is fine for emails and basic internet i.e. business use rather than streaming/downloading. I'm yet to use the Greyhound Platinum service and personally ensure my devices are charged before boarding (aircraft or bus), but like the option of having USB/AC power.

Between the two I would choose Greyhound over Murrays on the basis of available room and ancillary benefits for similar costs. Having spent some time in Western Europe I like the coaches employed on their services. The toilet is in the middle of the coach (doesn't move as much as in the rear). The seats are more akin to an airliner with a cup holder and tray table, and would be ideal on a business service. Without advertising a brand these coaches are readily available in Europe for a reasonable price when compared to Australia.

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