Riding Greyhound: The Good & The Bad

Jan 24, 2001

The Bottom Line Can't live with it; can't live without it.

Good Old Greyhound
When thinking about travel on a Greyhound bus, a plethora of advice comes to mind. Good and bad...

I have taken so many trips on greyhound that I feel I am an expert on the subject. Many cross-country trips lasting for two to three days have been taken on this one of a kind bus line. Most likely, whether you like it or not, you will probably have to take Greyhound at least once in your lifetime for traveling unless you can come up with two or three times the money of a bus ticket to fly on a plane.

The Good
1. Affordable. Greyhound holds so many purchase specials that sometimes it's hard to refuse. Where else could you go from New Orleans to New York City from $49 to $69 one way? (During a special sale reduction promotion, of course) You are unlikely to get that price on a plane! They usually always have the $99 dollar one-way specials running.

The Catch - You need to be on your toes and keep your eyes on the lookout when these promotions happen.

2. Locations. They have a bazillion locations where you can catch a bus. Ever heard of Dallas, Pennsylvania? New Iberia, Louisiana? How about Hancock, New York? Didn't think so...However, Greyhound goes there!

The Catch - Really, there is none. Greyhound even makes your trips more convenient by letting you board the bus without having a ticket. That's right, can you believe it? Don't think they give a free ride though because you will need to purchase one as soon as you arrive at your destination.

The Bad
1. Unorganized. They are constantly changing arrival and departure gates, times and even destinations. One time while using a Greyhound bus, they put me on a different bus all together going from Washington, DC to Binghamton, NY...I couldn't believe it. It was a totally different bus line all together called Shortline. It did go to the same destination. The Shortline bus station was diagonal to the Greyhound, but it did put me in a four-minute panic when I first heard the announcement.

2. Cleanliness. This will sound really gross, but it's true. You may want to bring along a moist rag or antibacterial towelette on your ride. Many times than not, I have needed to wipe oil spots off of the vinyl chairs up where the head rests upon the seat back. Whenever I ride a bus with material instead of vinyl, I only wonder what lies beneath...

3. What? You have Luggage? Not anymore you don't....
Horror Story: My husband and I went from New Orleans to NYC and it took two and a half days of travel. When we got to the NYC Port Authority terminal, my husband was missing his luggage that was supposedly stowed away under the baggage compartment during the duration of our trip. It took seven...I repeat SEVEN days to retreat it. Not to mention seven trips from Brooklyn to Manhattan to complain to the Greyhound people about the disappearance. We were not happy! They did offer to have someone bring it to the residence where we were staying at, but we didn't want to take any more chances so we picked it up ourselves.

4. Loony Passengers Cause Drivers to Call Police.
Funny Story. I was taking the Greyhound from Binghamton, NY to NYC Port Authority one day. We had gotten to the first stop in New Jersey when a mentally disturbed individual got on the bus. She was OK for the first twenty minutes or so...but then "AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" She yelled at the top of her lungs for no reason and scared the heck out of everyone, especially the bus driver. He went into a mild panic wondering if everyone was OK...We were...Then, everyone came to the conclusion that some embarrassed passenger must have had a nightmare. It was nighttime and the bus was somewhat dark so...It just had to be that.
Ten minutes later, "AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" again. Then 10 minutes after that a third holler! Then a fourth. Unreal! The driver decided to call in the cops and have the lady removed.

5. Loony Bus Driver Walks Away From the Bus and Never Returns.
Even funnier story - On another trip from Monticello, NY going to NYC, a few kids got on the bus returning home from college to enjoy the holidays. There were a couple of kids snapping their gum and the bus driver had no patience for it and asked them to stop. They didn't. Another couple of kids had their Walkman's a little too high for the drivers liking and he asked them to turn them down, they wouldn't. A couple of other kids were talking a little louder than the driver liked...He got a little louder with each request he made and no one would listen. He obviously got fed up while on route in Newark, NJ and pulled the bus over along the highway at a truck stop and just left. Yep, just walked off. It took an hour and a half for someone to get to where we were. It was a strange experience.

Greyhound drivers are some of the most talented drivers in the entire world. They can get the buses parked in the tightest of spots with ease. Drive through the worst of weather without even flinching. Fit through the narrowest of streets that have a stalled car blocking half of the road...I often wonder how they get such a wide bus between two taxicabs with, like, a few feet of space between them in the middle of Times Square. So, all in all, you don't have to worry about safety because I never saw a Greyhound bus driver that couldn't drive great...Unless you wanted to count my Jersey experience, where he just didn't drive at all.

It is a convenient and affordable means of transportation, just be prepared for the worst with a carry on bag with a couple days of clothes, a toothbrush (Because the person next to you will appreciate that your breath doesn't smell like something crawled in your mouth and died). If you plan on going on a long trip: When you don't talk for long periods of time, your breath gets raunchy. It's always smart to carry a $10 roll of quarters with you to get drinks and snacks from the vending machines located at the terminals. Also have an emergency phone number ready to locate the person who is picking you up because like I said, schedules do change. Oh, and I almost forgot, if you are a smoker, as I am not, they do stop numerous times along the way so make sure you have your cigarettes ready to go when you pull into a rest stop. Most importantly, don't forget some moist wipes.

I wouldn't recommend sending your children alone on Greyhound...Unless they are old enough to figure out what to do with a schedule change (IE: get assistance from the information desk). My nephew is 14...Soon to be 15 and I will send him a Greyhound ticket to come visit me this summer. I was 15 when I made my first trek and I got to my destination OK. Hopefully no one will abandon the bus this time.

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