‘There’s a Reason Why You’ve Never Heard of Bus Rage’

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  06.05.08 | 11:25 AM ET

greyhoundPhoto by safaris via Flickr (Creative Commons)

So says a Greyhound billboard that I pass every day on my way home, and I’m beginning to wonder if the company’s marketing people might be on to something. The one-liners about Greyhound (that its clientele is made up of freshly-released students and freshly-released convicts, for one) have been around longer than I have, but with the airlines rapidly catching up in the joke department, things may be changing. Could bus travel be making a respectability comeback?

For the record, I’m not a big fan of Greyhound. I’ve always thought that the train is the most civilized, relaxed way to travel, and every time I find myself wrestling my belt out of its loops at an airport security checkpoint, that belief becomes more fervent. (I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about cutting back on flying, and not just for the sake of my carbon footprint.) But without a major infrastructure overhaul, North America’s trains can only absorb so many airport refugees. As the Today Show’s travel editor, Peter Greenberg, notes in this column, Amtrak’s ridership is up by 11 percent this year. But because the freight companies own the tracks, and freight takes precedence (see today’s post from California, for instance), Amtrak’s punctuality numbers are also in the teens. Add in some seriously well-loved rolling stock (out of four rides on Amtrak, I’ve experienced two engine break-downs) and what you have is a rail service that isn’t set up to handle a huge influx of ex-air travelers.

Which brings us back to the bus. Coach companies certainly seem ready to offer alternatives. BoltBus has launched. MegaBus has expanded its service. Limoliner offers a luxury option. I rode the bus from Montreal to Ottawa this weekend, and it was inexpensive, comfortable, and on time—with no vaguely humiliating security measures at one end, and no long wait for checked baggage at the other.

So maybe Greyhound’s advertising hacks have stumbled on to an important travel truth: there really is a good reason why you’ve never heard of bus rage.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

5 Comments for ‘There’s a Reason Why You’ve Never Heard of Bus Rage’

Allison 06.05.08 | 1:25 PM ET

I’ve had one (great!) Amtrak experience and one (notsogreat) Greyhound experience, so I hardly have a wealth of knowledge to draw on.

The problem with both of these services is that they aren’t really conducive to business travel (it took me 5 days to get from Sacramento to Baltimore on Amtrak) or short-term vacations (Spring Break, for instance). Most Americans fall into one or both of these categories, and thus I see neither option as a real possibility for folks fed up with air travel.

The future of transportation is pretty sketchy right now. What I’d like to see are more environmentally friendly options (Greyhound runs on diesel as far as I know. Could they change to biodiesel? Could Amtrak run on clean coal, natural gas, or similar?) and a lot more telecommuting. We could really lower our own costs by conference calling, video conferencing, and closed circuit television broadcasting.

Whatever the option, the changes need to be made sooner, rather than later.

toronto wedding 06.06.08 | 12:42 PM ET

thats very nice! thanks for sharing =)

Tim 06.06.08 | 11:02 PM ET

Having spent 21 years in the Navy 5 different contenents…or were there 4? I have ridden on every kind/type of public and private…don’t ask don’t tell ...transportation….Americans are spoit. The unspoiling can not happen overnight but the airlines have been doing their damnest by “downsizing” and some passengers have decided that getting through the gates to the “friendly skys” are not so friendly anymore. How does Amtrack compare to the “Green train” in South Korea…great! To the Shinkasen in Japan…not so great! How does a Greyhound bus compare with the “liberty liner” in the Phillipenes great! to a luxury double decker super tour coach (bus) in England…like a illegal panel van ride to the USA from mexico! Yea, yea going green for the supposed Global warming…oh thats right it is called climate change…by burning syn fuels which take just as much energy to produce as you get out of it is reaaalll smart…just stick to the subject…. Bus lines have to lure customers back by offering special buses…not short ones…but same thought….limited seats…slightly higher ticket price…and more limited stops trips….trains? They have to get more dedicated tracks…not only in the northeast coridore but sunbelt areas as well,,,,here is a novel idea, more water taxis with high speed boats. don’t have to be ocean going..there are a lot of inland waterways that have barge trafic…

Jack from eyeflare travel tips 06.08.08 | 7:37 PM ET

Got to love bus travel though. Here in England we have National Express, which will get you across the country almost as fast as the train system, but at much lower cost. There’s also EasyBus, MegaBus,...

Anyway, I did put together an article on <a >bus systems around the world</a> to help others book some bus travel.

Now, if I could only get even better travel bargains with trains… as I can’t sleep on a bus!

Tim 06.14.08 | 11:57 PM ET

“take the National Express”, that was a song…right? You are so lucky with your public transportation option in the UK….of course you do not have the expanse of land we have here in the USA. I Mentioned waterways as being used as water taxis…you have soooo many canals but you have had over 1000 maybe years to build them…I still think that is how they got those stones to Stonehindge? When the first settlers moved west out of the colonys they went via rivers….I have seen this on a limited scale in cities that don’t normally feature them (think NY) but the market is ripe….I would probably have to be some type of Novelty at first…but a nice hovercraft ride might sway some…..didn’t UK have one to France?

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