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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » It's Such A Comfort To Take The Bus....

   
Author Topic: It's Such A Comfort To Take The Bus....
Gilbert B Norman
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......and leave the driving to us!

New York Times

This article appears in the News section, as distinct from the Travel.

Sub human; makes Amtrak Coach appear "civilized".

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George Harris
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Many bus routes have dissapeared. Most bus stations have moved to hard to find shacks no where near the center of town. Greyhound has dropped in quality far from what it was in the 1950's and even 60's.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Back in the days of the "Scenicruiser" (circa '55), Greyhound was actually pitching their service to middle class travelers. The title of this topic was their tag line back in those days.

Bus stations were actually downtown (Chicago; @ State and Randolph), Greyhound had franchised restaurants named Post House at which full service dining was available.

I think the last time I rode a scheduled bus anywhere was during November 1965. NY to Dover, DE when in service and stationed at Dover AFB (no time for ceremonies back then; just fork lift the remains on pallets and get those planes "outta there"). Within three weeks, I had bought a '66 VW. Last I saw of a scheduled bus.

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palmland
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I took a couple bus trips a year in college. Always to connect to a train, usually from Richmond. Not a bad experience, even if usually in the middle of the night. Many passengers still dressed up for it, including me. My favorite was the co-pilot seat - front row on Trailways that I took from Columbia, SC to Chattanooga (connecting to the Georgian).

Amtrak and Greyhound would do well to form a real alliance using Amtrak stations with bus to feed small towns to Amtrak as well as bus for long hauls for cities not Amtrak served such as Atlanta or Birmingham to Nashville. Now it’s very hit or miss where this occurs.

In my small town Southeastern Trailways (used to be Greyhound) calls a couple times a day enroute to Columbia and Atlanta. But don’t think I’ll be trying it anytime soon. They call at a gas station by the interstate rather than the nice building downtown that’s now a garden center. But I would try it if they called at the Amtrak station in Florence, about 50 miles away.

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yukon11
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How about a CABIN bus:

https://is.gd/mm0QNu

Not for me, but interesting.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Richard, those coffins offer less space per capita than does a double occupancy Roomette. I guess they could also be a set for a redux of Jack Benny skits in a Pullman Upper Berth.

I'd say if you are Active Duty Navy, or had recently left after a hitch or career, you would have no issues. Otherwise, Southwest offers hourly service between all major SF and LA airports.

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palmland
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I believe I’ll take the Lark.

But could something like this work for Amtrak. How many bunks could you cram in a Superliner? Sort of a U.S. version of the couchette.

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Vincent206
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Greyhound is now For Sale. The dog's parent company, First Group, is unhappy with the ROI from running a public transport company and is looking to unload its "iconic" brand.

quote:
FirstGroup invested in expanding and modernising the Greyhound fleet and terminals as well as marketing, but this has not proved enough to give it the returns shareholders expect.
“The issues at Greyhound have revolved around the impact of low cost airlines coming into some of our markets and (the) relatively low oil price over the year, which in the U.S. means more people get into their cars,” FirstGroup Chief Executive Matthew Gregory told reporters on a call.

Critics of Amtrak frequently like to tout the ability of BoltBus, a division of Greyhound, to offer $1 fares between cities to show the incompetency of Amtrak. But apparently, low fares aren't paying the bills at Greyhound either.
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George Harris
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A major issue with taking a bus outside highly populated area is the lack of frequent service and roundabout routing. To take as an example a trip we make fairly frequently, from near Memphis TN to Pensacola FL.

By bus it approaches a "you can't get there from here situation" It shows once a day and 20 hours outgoing trip and 15 hours return. Both ways have a change in Mobile with a fairly long layover, but still it is 12 hours each way between Memphis and Mobile. There is also a change in Jackson MS. Further, Memphis to Jackson is not straight down I-55. it is via Greenville MS. Total cost $250 to $300 each person depending upon fare games.

I could do this on Delta with a change in Atlanta taking between 3 and 1/2 to 4 and 1/2 hours each way for $850 to $1000 per person.

Given the almost entirely Interstate highway drive via Birmingham and Montgomery, you can do the 480 miles in about 7 hours driving time, say add about 1 to 2 hours for meal and gas stops. For this with my current set of wheels and gas prices, I have spent about $150 on gas, round trip.

Thus unless I cannot drive will I consider spending twice as much to take twice as long? More than twice as long actually unless someone can drive the 50 miles to Mobile to pick me up. No, if finances permit, if I cannot drive I will fly. Most likely, I will simply not go.

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yukon11
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Greyhound is starting to pull out of Western Canada:

https://is.gd/D979SD

Low gas prices and cheap airline flights have added to the problem. I wonder if the same will start happening here in the US?

In Canada, there's some talk of creating a "VIA" bus service.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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I don't wish to minimize the social tragedy of migration. That any political jurisdiction cannot, or will not, provide for the welfare of its citizens is discussion for other venues.

Rail travel away from the population centers is essentially extinct at present, and like it or not, will be totally so at some point in this century. Scheduled intercity bus service seems to be heading there as well and, since it has not become any politician's pet, at an even faster rate.

But I think the bottom line becomes more evident; the "can't drives" migrate to urban centers where transportation resources are more readily available.

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
But I think the bottom line becomes more evident; the "can't drives" migrate to urban centers where transportation resources are more readily available.

I can't speak for anybody else, but to move to an urban area is on my "never if I can possibly avoid it" list. Many exurban areas now have some form of taxi service available, and for many relatives and friends will help. There is also the realization of many people that reality says daytime only, stay off interstates and avoid high speed and high volume roads to the greatest extent practical. For those that don't do it willingly most states do issue drivers' licenses with these sorts of restrictions.
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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by George Harris:
There is also the realization of many people that reality says daytime only, stay off interstates and avoid high speed and high volume roads to the greatest extent practical.

Mr. Harris, somehow I think Interstates are safer than other highways. On my "Virginia Wine Tour" this year, to get from Crozet, after visiting a winery there (the finest Viognier I've ever tasted), on South (Reidsville NC and an Express to tie up), I had to drive US29. While some is Interstate, such as around Jerry Falwell's "Temple unto Himself", much is not although four lanes. Seems like in the valley between two "hillocks", "Farmer Alfalfa" was pulling a load of hay with his F-150 X-ing my two lanes. Was I ever thankful for the massive brakes on my buggy.

Finally, next day enroute to Atlanta, I did do something rail. I stopped at Spencer - and Mr. Palmland has photo evidence that I did.

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George Harris
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Mr. Norman: Interstates safer true, but it is a reaction time and perceived speed issue. Years ago when dealing with a highway design job the comment from the state DOT person I was dealing with was that the a divided non-interstate had about half the accident rate as a two lane, and a limited access highway had an accident rate of about half of that. However, many elderly drivers are more of a danger to others than to themselves when on interstates, as with age your perception of speed slows down such that in general terms you feel like you are going faster than you really are. That is why many old people drive slowly. They don't realize they are. So you can be going down the interstate at 40 mph feeling like you are doing 70 mph. The hazard to others doing this presents should be obvious. This is the reason for the "No interstates" restriction.
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palmland
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Actually, GBN, US 29 is one of our three routes to the northeast. While a bit slower than the other alternatives (I-77/81 and I-20/95) it is certainly more enjoyable since we always break the trip half way which is either Winchester area, Ashland, or Charlottesville.

NC has great highways so it is direct shot for us on US1/I-73-74/and, in VA, US 29 to Charlottesville. It's fun to pass through the nice country of southern Virginia even with slowing for a few one light towns but minimal high balling big rigs.

On Monday our path will be via Ashland since the Henry Clay is pet friendly and we will be returning our son's dog to him. The fact that it will be pleasant weather for sipping some brown liquor on their front porch rockers during the early evening train rush is a bonus.

And, to get back on topic, I can't imagine anything worse than that trip on Greyhound with its many 'rest' stops and unpleasant seating.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Harris, you address all things about which I must be concerned as I'm looking at 78 yo. All I can say is that 500 mi is my normal "stint" for a day, I tie up at major brand "two star" hotels (Express, Hampton, Fairfield, varietals), so I'm not driving what cops call "the 3 D's" (drowsy, drunk, doped). Further, I have a late model (OK; an '18 Lex LS) with all the "driver assist" features. No insurance company has ever paid out a dime to an injured party on my watch, and I intend to keep it that way with "proactively" more than "knocking on wood".

So that's the environment in which I take my long auto trips that 98% of others would fly, and 1% would take Amtrak.

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David
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quote:
Originally posted by yukon11:
Greyhound is starting to pull out of Western Canada:

https://is.gd/D979SD

Low gas prices and cheap airline flights have added to the problem. I wonder if the same will start happening here in the US?

In Canada, there's some talk of creating a "VIA" bus service.

Richard

Greyhound service in western Canada ended seven months ago:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/greyhound-western-canada-1.4884374

In its annual so-called public meeting last week, VIA said they were unable to increase service to compensate for the lack of bus service.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Did we ever once pitch to the Middle Class!

https://youtu.be/uZrhLQWGpjY

Many more where this came from.

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George Harris
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Yes. Remember the Scenicruiser. These things were somewhat top heavy and swayed a lot. At the time they first came out we made a few trips a year to my grandparents. That would be from the Memphis bus station (at Union and Third directly across Union from the Trailways station) to the side of the highway, US 70, at Huntersville, which is about 10 miles west of Jackson, Tenn. My mother did not like them beacuse of the swaying as she was highly subject to motion sickness. This was 70 miles and a little over 2 hours, given all two lane highways with multiple small towns, plus the medium size town of Brownsvile. It was also significant that kids below 6 were free on the bus, instead of below 5 on trains.

To bring this to trains, we made one trip by train, all of us, I guess it was shortly after the City of Memphis was instituted. I remember standing in the vestibule with my dad to hear the steam engine and see it on a curve and gettingn a cinder in my eye. The train was not our normal because of the early morning departure from Memphis and the need for my grandfather to drive into Jackson to pick us up instead of meeting the bus on the roadside at a point only a mile from their house.

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yukon11
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Did we ever once pitch to the Middle Class!

https://youtu.be/uZrhLQWGpjY

Many more where this came from.

**********************************

I'll bet not too many people, these days, put on a suit and tie to ride Greyhound.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Of course Richard, be it noted that when I see photos of the patrons riding in the SAL "-- Beach" Sun Lounge, or even the NYC "Century" "Hickory Crerk", wearing what they wear, how dare do these slobs live with themselves?

OK, they paid up; but how about a little respect for how they are traveling.

I can't say the dress code at the Chicago Symphony is all that stringent, but when I go overseas to Salzburg for concerts, it still remains.

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PullmanCo
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For the duration, Amtrak KC-StL Service is by bus.

UP is flooded out from Jeff City to Washington.

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