Both the Greyhound and Trailways route networks evolved from what originally were many small bus companies, which were gradually consolidated into the two nationwide intercity bus systems. Greyhound became one single company, while several companies with the Trailways name remained separately owned, but all working together in forming a nationwide Trailways bus system.

Most of the Trailways bus companies eventually became part of Continental Trailways. But in 1987, Continental Trailways was acquired by Greyhound. While the various smaller Trailways companies continued to be separately owned. Competition no longer exists within the originally established intercity bus industry. Instead, Greyhound, the smaller Trailways companies, and the various remaining independent bus companies, now all work together to compete against the automobile and the low cost airlines.

Greyhound was originally incorporated in 1926 as Motor Transit Corp., renamed Greyhound Corp. in 1930. During the 1930's, various Greyhound companies emerged throughout the United States, either wholly or partially owned by Greyhound Corp., or as separate franchise companies. With franchise agreements, companies would remain separate, while benefitting from nationwide name recognition, and through ticketing and scheduling. Several Greyhound companies were significantly controlled by various railroads.

The Trailways system was first formed in 1936 as an association of five separate companies working together, to benefit from nationwide name recognition, and to offer through ticketing and scheduling. Some companies were actually owned by major railroads. By the end of its second year, 40 companies had become part of the Trailways system. The largest company to emerge was Continental Trailways, which was a consolidation through various mergers. Continental Trailways had its beginnings in 1927 as the Bowen Motor Coach Co., operating in Texas, which in 1945 was merged into Continental Bus System. Continental Bus System was one of the original companies merged into Transcontinental Bus System upon its formation in 1947. Transcontinental Bus System was acquired in 1968 by Holiday Inn, and sold by Holiday Inn in 1979.

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