Eurobus, the popular 2-year-old European backpackers bus service, is changing its fare structure this spring. Starting April 2, budget adventurers will travel on three separate passes covering sections of northern, central and southern Europe.
Eurobus provides daily bus service to major European cities for travelers aged 16 to 38. Last year more than 20,000 travelers used it.
On Eurobus travelers won't have the flexibility of going in a variety of directions, as they would with regular bus and rail services, but Eurobus offers door-to-door service. They can avoid lugging their packs on crowded local transportation because Eurobus drops and picks up passengers at selected hostels, hotels and campgrounds.
The service is designed for independent travelers who want some of the advantages of group tour travel. In addition to a driver, there is a guide on board who can help give advice on where to stay and what to see at each stop. Eurobus also allows passengers the freedom to complete the journey at their own pace. Travelers can stop where they want, for as long as they want, taking up to four months to complete a journey.
Passes to travel each zone cost $225, or $210 if you are under 26. You can combine two zones for $400, or $350 for those under 26, and you can travel all three zones for $525, or $470 for those under 26.
The Northern Zone bus starts off in Paris and continues on to Reims, France; Brussels; Amsterdam; overnight to Berlin; Prague, Czech Republic; overnight to Vienna and Salzburg, Austria; Munich, Germany; Basel, Switzerland; and overnight to Paris.
Buses covering the Central Zone travel from Basel overnight to Munich, then on to Kirchdorf, Austria; Venice, Italy; overnight to Rome and Florence, Italy; overnight to Nice, France; then Switzerland to Lucerne, Zurich and Basel. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays a detour is made between Venice and Rome, to Bari, Italy, where travelers can catch ferries to Greece.
The Southern Zone route begins in Paris and goes to Basel, Geneva, Nice, overnight to Avignon, France; Carcassonne, France, Barcelona, Spain; overnight to Madrid; Bordeaux, France; and Paris.
You can add return travel from Paris to London to the beginning or end of your trip for $50 if you've purchased a one-zone pass, or for $25 if you have a two-zone pass. If you've purchased a pass for all zones, the trip is free.
Eurobus is also making arrangements with the Euroline bus network for special add-on fares for travel between Madrid and Lisbon, Berlin and Warsaw, and Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna.
Although the Eurobus brochures say "Hop on and off," you must make make reservations to be assured of a seat on the day you want to travel.
Eurobus also has instituted a penalty for those who reserve a seat and don't show up.
This year Eurobus is planning to stop at more campsites because they provide the cheapest accommodations.
For further information, or to purchase passes, contact: STA Travel at 7202 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046; telephone (213) 934-8722,or Council Travel at 10904 Lindbrook Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90024; tel. (310) 208-3551, or University and Student Travel Service Nationwide (USTN). This organization has 11 campus agencies including Outroads-ASUCI Travel, UCI Student Center, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697; tel. (714) 824-4237.