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Greyhound Bus Lines

This article is about the US bus line. For Greyhound bus lines in other countries, see Greyhound (disambiguation).

Template:Infobox bus transit Greyhound Lines, Inc., based in Dallas, Texas, is an intercity bus service common carrier of passengers serving over 3,700 destinations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, operating under the logo of a leaping greyhound. It was founded in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1914 and incorporated as Greyhound Corporation in 1929. Today, it is headquartered at 350 North St. Paul Street in Downtown Dallas, Texas under the ownership of British transport firm FirstGroup, which operates Greyhound as an independent subsidiary and a division of FirstGroup America.[1]

Along with its flagship Greyhound brand, and the subsidiary Greyhound Express brand, the company also operates or co-operates BoltBus,[2] NeOn and YO! Bus.

History

Early years

Carl Eric Wickman was born in Sweden in 1887. In 1905 he moved to the United States where he was working in a mine as a drill operator in Alice, Minnesota, until he was laid off in 1914. In the same year, he became a Hupmobile salesman in Hibbing, Minnesota.[3] He proved unable to sell the car. In 1914, using his remaining vehicle, a 7-passenger car,[4] he began a bus service with Andy (Bus Andy) Anderson and C. A. A. (Arvid) Heed,[5] by transporting iron ore miners from Hibbing to Alice (known for its saloons)[4] at 15 cents a ride.[6]

In 1915, Wickman joined forces with Ralph Bogan, who was running a similar service from Hibbing to Duluth, Minnesota. The name of the new organization was the Mesaba Transportation Company, and it made $8,000 in profit in its first year.

By the end of World War I in 1918, Wickman owned 18 buses and was making an annual profit of $40,000. In 1922, Wickman joined forces with Orville Caesar, the owner of the Superior White Bus Lines. Four years later, Wickman reached an agreement with two West Coast operations, the Pickwick Lines and the Pioneer Yelloway System.

In 1926, Wickman's bus operations became known as Greyhound Lines. An important moment in Greyhound's history came when Ed Stone set up a route from Superior, Wisconsin to Wausau, Wisconsin. The Greyhound moniker can be found in a story that during his inaugural run, passing through a small northern Wisconsin town, Stone saw the reflection of the 1920s era bus in a store window, which reminded him of a greyhound dog and he adopted that name for that segment of the Blue Goose Lines, as the Wickman lines were then known; later the entire system became Greyhound. Stone later became General Sales Manager of GM's Yellow Truck and Coach division, which built Greyhound buses. (At the Greyhound Bus Museum in Hibbing, a plaque displays this information.) Wickman, as the president of the company, continued to expand it so that by 1927, his buses were making transcontinental trips from California to New York. In 1928, Greyhound had a gross annual income of $6 million.[4]

Wickman's business suffered during the Great Depression, and, by 1931, was over $1 million in debt. However, with the later improvement in the economy, the Greyhound Corporation began to prosper again. In 1935, Wickman was able to announce record profits of $8 million. By the outbreak of World War II, the company had 4,750 stations and nearly 10,000 employees.

Wickman retired as president of the Greyhound Corporation in 1946, being replaced by his long-time partner Caesar. Wickman died at the age of 67 in 1954.

Postwar expansion and diversification


After World War II, and the building of the Interstate Highway System beginning in 1956, automobile ownership and travel became a preferred mode of travel in the United States. Along with a similar downward trend in public transportation in general, ridership on Greyhound and Trailways bus routes began a long decline.

Greyhound leadership saw the trend and began significant changes, including using the profitable bus operations to invest in other industries. By the 1970s, Greyhound had moved its headquarters to Phoenix, Arizona and was a large and diversified company, with holdings in everything from the Armour meat-packing company (which in turn owned the popular Dial deodorant soap brand), acquired in 1970; Traveller's Express money orders, MCI bus manufacturing company, and even airliner leasing. Indeed, Greyhound had entered a time of great change, even beginning to hire African American and female drivers in the late seventies.[7]

For many young people from Europe, Greyhound was the way they got to know America because of a special unlimited mileage offer: "99 days for US$99" (equal to $789.22 today) or, in other words, a dollar a day (equal to $7.97 today), anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. (The equivalent today is known as the Discovery Pass.)

Greyhound established the Premier Cruise Line in 1983. It would last until 2000 and at one time billed itself as the "Official Cruise Line of Walt Disney World".

In late 1984, Greyhound had a major and bitter drivers' strike, with one fatality in Zanesville, Ohio. By the time contract negotiations were due again, three years later, the bus line had been spun off from the parent company to new owners. This resulted in Greyhound Lines becoming solely a bus transportation company headed by Fred Currey, a former executive with the largest member of the National Trailways Bus System. Greyhound's corporate headquarters then relocated to Dallas, Texas. The old parent changed its name to the Dial Corporation.

Spin-off from Dial Corporation


Under new ownership in 1987, led by Currey, Greyhound Lines acquired Trailways, Inc. in June of that year (formerly Continental Trailways), the largest member of the rival National Trailways Bus System, effectively consolidating into a national bus service. Greyhound was required by the ICC, in their action approving the merger, to maintain coordinated schedules with other scheduled service operators in the U.S.[8]

Three years later, there was another costly strike beginning in March 1990. It was during this strike, combined with the loss of diversification and strength provided by the former parent company and labor-law violations, that Greyhound had to file for bankruptcy in June 1990. This strike was as bitter as the strike of the 1980s, with violence against both strikers and their replacement workers. One striker in California was killed by a Greyhound bus driven by a strikebreaker.[9] At the same time, Greyhound was having to contend with the rise of low-cost airlines like Southwest Airlines, which further reduced the market for long-distance inter-city bus transportation. The strike would not be settled for 38 months under terms favorable to Greyhound. While the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had awarded damages for unfair labor practices to the strikers, this liability was discharged during bankruptcy reorganization.[9][10]

In 1997, Greyhound Lines acquired Carolina Trailways, one of the largest members of the National Trailways Bus System; in 1998, Greyhound acquired the intercity operations of Southeastern Trailways.[11][12] Following the acquisitions, most of the other independent members of the Trailways System began interlining cooperatively with Greyhound, discontinued their regular route services, diversified into charters and tours, or went out of business altogether.

Laidlaw ownership and reorganization of the route network

In 1999, Burlington, Ontario-based transportation conglomerate Laidlaw Inc. acquired Greyhound Lines, Inc.'s U.S. operations, including Carolina Trailways and other Greyhound affiliates. (Laidlaw had previously acquired Greyhound Canada.)

After incurring heavy losses through its investments in Greyhound Lines and other parts of its diversified business, Laidlaw Inc. filed for protection under both U.S. and Canadian bankruptcy laws in June 2001.

Naperville, Illinois-based Laidlaw International, Inc. listed its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange (Ticker: LI) on February 10, 2003 and emerged from re-organization on June 23, 2003 as the successor to Laidlaw Inc. In the wake of this bankruptcy filing, Greyhound would exit a number of areas, particularly rural areas, turning routes in those areas over to local operators (often with government subsidies), particularly in the Plains states, parts of the upper Midwest such as Wisconsin, and the Pacific Northwest.[13][14] During these route changes in 2004 and 2005, a number of routes were eliminated altogether, most notably the Interstate 90 route between Chicago and Seattle. (However, Greyhound later restored service on some of the aforementioned routes, including the Chicago-Seattle route.)[15][16]

FirstGroup ownership

On February 7, 2007, FirstGroup plc of Aberdeen, Scotland agreed to purchase Laidlaw International for US$3.6 billion (£1.9 billion). The deal closed on September 30, 2007.[17] Although its original intention was merely to buy the school bus part of Laidlaw, it later decided to retain the Greyhound part, too. The Greyhound name has been retained by FirstGroup; the brands of its subsidiaries, however, are not being retained and will disappear as buses are retired.[18]

Under the ownership of FirstGroup, other concerns have also been addressed. Greyhound had come under criticism for its bus assignment practices. Although bus tickets have times and dates printed on them, seating is not guaranteed and is 'first-come, first-served'. Greyhound will add additional "sections" (buses) in periods of high demand, but the threshold required to trigger an additional section varies. Passengers may have to wait for the next bus departure time.[19] Shortly after the sale to FirstGroup closed, Greyhound began a program in select markets, most notably in the northeastern United States, where riders could reserve a seat for an additional US$5. However, the US$5 fee would have to be paid at the terminal, even if the ticket was bought online, and only a limited number of seats could be reserved.[20]

The "New Greyhound"

Also under FirstGroup ownership, Greyhound has sought to improve its image and create what it calls the "New Greyhound", spending US$60 million to refurbish many terminals, expand the fleet with new buses, refurbish old buses and staff terminals with associates who are able to help those who have questions about the bus system. Greyhound is initiating an advertising campaign with Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners aimed at attracting 18-24 year olds and Hispanics.[21] As a result, after the FirstGroup acquisition, Greyhound began advertising as "The New Greyhound".

The "New Greyhound" also saw the introduction of a new logo and a new navy blue and dark gray livery for buses. The company is in the process of rolling out the new livery to the nationwide fleet. As buses are repainted they are also being refurbished, receiving wireless Internet access and new leather seating.[22]

International Brand Expansion

In 2009, the Greyhound brand, along with the new livery, was exported to the United Kingdom, with parent FirstGroup using the Greyhound name (Greyhound UK, in Britain's case) for services designed to compete against its primary competitors in the British intercity bus travel market, National Express and Stagecoach's Megabus.

Services

Greyhound operates 130 routes serving over 3,700 destinations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Greyhound's scheduled services compete with the private automobile, low-cost airlines, and other intercity coach companies.

Greyhound Express

Greyhound Express is an low-cost express city-to-city service that makes either no stops or fewer stops compared to a traditional route. Fares start at $1 and, unlike other Greyhound routes, all tickets sold on Greyhound Express are for reserved seating and buses are not oversold. Passengers are assigned to a boarding group which means the passengers who purchased their tickets earlier, get to board the bus and choose their seats earlier. Greyhound Express routes exclusively use refurbished buses that are equipped with Wi-Fi, power outlets, leather seats, and extra legroom.[23] The service began in 2011 and is designed to directly compete with low-cost carriers like Megabus.[24][23]

Other brands and partnerships

Discount services

Since the purchase of Greyhound Lines by FirstGroup, Greyhound has initiated three new discount bus services that are operated in conjunction with other regional operators. These services are designed to compete with Chinatown bus carriers and more directly with Megabus. Both services offer Wi-Fi and outlets into which electronic equipment, i.e. cell phones, laptops, and DVD players, can be plugged at every seat.

BoltBus

Main article: BoltBus

In March 2008, Greyhound announced a new service titled BoltBus into the Boston-NYC-DC megalopolis, modeled on the Megabus system in use at the time in the Chicago metropolitan area and in the United Kingdom, offering fares as low as US$1, with the lowest fares depending on how far in advance a trip is booked and demand for the trip, with fares increasing for trips booked closer to departure. On each trip, at least one seat is sold for US$1, with prices increasing as more seats sell.[25] The service began in the Northeast US on March 27, 2008, in partnership with Peter Pan Bus Lines.

BoltBus expanded to the West Coast in May 2012 with a route in the Pacific Northwest (between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon). Service was expanded again in October 2013 to California (between Los Angeles, San Jose, and Oakland). Both West Coast routes are owned directly by Greyhound without a regional partner.

NeOn

On May 29, 2008, NeOn, a service based on the Megabus model used in the United Kingdom and United States, as well as the BoltBus service used by Greyhound in the US, began service to and from Toronto in association with Trailways of New York, operating between street stops at Penn Station in Manhattan and the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The service was originally designed to attract a new demographic of traveler who had long ago stopped taking intercity buses but who had grown comfortable with the low cost and convenience of the Chinatown bus services in the northeastern US. NeOn was initially set up to directly compete with the Megabus M24 and M26 routes operating twice daily between New York City and Toronto making very few stops (Buffalo twice-daily and Syracuse once-daily).

Poor performance led Greyhound to make adjustments to the service until the NeOn name became purely superficial, a marketing name for what was otherwise exactly the same intercity local bus service that had always existed. Many departure times are now available as a result, though travel times have increased considerably. A "NeOn" bus will often physically be a New York Trailways bus, albeit with Wifi, making stops in, for example, Scranton, Binghamton, Ithaca, Syracuse, Rochester, the Buffalo Airport, Buffalo, customs at the U.S.-Canadian border, Fort Erie, St. Catharines, Mississauga, and finally Toronto. The name NeOn is now even used on completely different routes such as to Plattsburgh and Montreal, further reducing the brand differentiation. Many runs also terminate at the Trailways gates at the Port Authority rather than the former streetside drop off at Penn Station. With the loss of more direct, customized travel has come a reversion to the more traditional demographic of local bus traveler, the very sort of traveler that NeOn was supposed to grow beyond.

The service continues to be a joint operation between sister companies Greyhound Lines, Greyhound Canada, and Trailways of New York, the major inter-city bus carrier within most of New York State.

YO! Bus

YO! Bus is a discount bus service started in December 2012 in partnership with Peter Pan Bus Lines,[26] operating routes between Boston, Philadelphia, and Manhattan's Chinatown.[27] The buses feature leather seats, Wi-Fi, and power outlets.

It competed with Lucky Star Bus and Fung Wah Bus routes,[27] both Chinatown bus lines, until those companies were shut down and service suspended in 2013 due to safety concerns by government transportation authorities. YO! Bus originally launched between Manhattan's Chinatown and Philadelphia, with service between Manhattan's Chinatown and Boston beginning later in the spring of 2013.[28]

Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach

Greyhound is one of the major operators of Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach service even though the two are competitors in some markets. The service actually compensates for lost intercity rail service in many instances and provides access to locations away from Amtrak's rail lines. In some cases the added convenience of through-ticketing is available for connecting passengers.

Notable incidents and accidents

Below is a list of major incidents and accidents on Greyhound buses and buses of subsidiaries in the United States.

  • August 4, 1952: In Greyhound's deadliest accident, two Greyhound buses collided head-on along the then-U.S. Route 81 near Waco, Texas. The fuel tanks of both buses then ruptured, bursting into flames. Of the 56 persons aboard both coaches, 28 were killed, including both drivers.[29][30]
  • May 9, 1980: A freight ship collided with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida, resulting in several vehicles including a Greyhound bus falling into Tampa Bay. All 26 people on the bus perished, along with nine others. This is the largest loss of life on a single Greyhound coach to date.
  • October 3, 2001: At approximately 4:15 a.m. local time, a passenger, Damir Igric, assaulted the driver of his bus, attempting to slit his throat, and causing the bus to crash near Manchester, Tennessee, killing Igric and five other passengers and injuring 32 others. Since the incident occurred three weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Greyhound temporarily disabled its entire system as soon as the company learned of the incident for fear that it may have been part of a larger co-ordinated attack. After investigation by the company and the FBI, it was confirmed that Igric had acted alone and service resumed later that afternoon.[31] After the incident, Greyhound bus stations increased security, though not nearly to the same level as that of airports or train stations.
  • September 30, 2002: Arturo Martinez Tapia assaulted another Greyhound driver near Fresno, California, resulting in two passenger deaths after the bus then rolled off an embankment and crashed.[32] Following this attack, driver shields were installed on most Greyhound buses which now prevent passengers from having direct contact with the driver when the bus is in motion, even if the shield is forced open. On buses which do not have the shield, the seats directly behind the driver are usually off limits to passengers.[33]

Security

Increasingly, concern has been given to bus security. As a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, train and airplane security have been substantially increased, but this increase has not been provided to bus security. Baggage is neither inspected, nor identification checked. Greyhound says that security wands have been deployed on buses, but they do not appear to be routinely used.[34]

Greyhound announced in a press conference in 2007 that a pilot program to test various security measures would be implemented at select stations and on select coaches starting later that year.

In February 2013, in partnership with DriveCam, Greyhound deployed video cameras across its entire fleet to increase safety and driver compliance by combining data and video analytics with real-time driver feedback and coaching.[35]

Greyhound Community Reflections Mural Program

Greyhound Lines and the National Council for La Raza (NCLR) sponsor the Greyhound Community Reflections Mural Program, in which Latino American student artists paint murals reflecting the contributions of Latino Americans. These are posted in Greyhound Stations across the United States.[36] The bus line had three painted in Texas by 2003.[37]

Fleet

Current Fleet

Greyhound primarily operates motorcoaches produced by Motor Coach Industries and Prevost.

In an effort to improve its image, the company has been aggressively purchasing new coaches and refurbishing existing coaches. Each of the new and refurbished coaches have the new navy blue and grey livery on the exterior, wireless Internet access and leather seating with armrests, footrests, cup holders, seat belts and 120V power outlets (at most seats). The coaches also have 5 seats removed, giving passengers additional legroom and eliminating the middle seat from the last row. [22]

Manufacturer Model Introduced Number purchased Operating area Notes [38][39]
Motor Coach Industries 102DL3 1998 911 Nationwide Being refurbished as a part of the upgrade to the nationwide fleet.
About half are equipped with wheelchair lifts. Non-lift equipped units are confined to "Charters & Tours" service due to ADA requirements.
Some units are assigned to YO! Bus service.
Motor Coach Industries G4500 2001 250 Western US Being refurbished as a part of the upgrade to the nationwide fleet.
Motor Coach Industries D4505 2006 43 Nationwide Being refurbished as a part of the upgrade to the nationwide fleet.
Prevost X3-45 2009 190 Eastern/Southern US Some units are confined to BoltBus service.
Motor Coach Industries D4505 2010 88 Nationwide
Prevost X3-45 2013 90 Eastern/Southern US Some units are confined to BoltBus service.
Motor Coach Industries D4505 2013 130 Nationwide

(Not all coaches listed are still in service due to accidents and ADA requirements.)

"Demonstrator" coaches

Greyhound also occasionally uses "demonstrator" coaches (on loan from a manufacturer looking to sell coaches to Greyhound) on routes. Current demonstrators include the Setra S217HDH and the Van Hool C2045.

Past coaches with nicknames

Later models such as the A series and the MC-12 bore only the Americruiser name. MCI D and G series, Prevost, and Van Hool coaches do not carry nicknames. For several years after the purchase of Trailways, Inc., by Greyhound Lines, Inc. in 1987, Greyhound also operated a number of Eagles, the signature Trailways coach, which had come from the Trailways fleet. Since the transition period after the merger, Greyhound has no longer operated Eagle coaches. Photos show Eagles with Greyhound paint schemes,[40][41] a Trailways paint scheme with a dog logo,[42][43][44][45] and a Trailways paint scheme with the required Greyhound legal lettering.[46] Foreign examples are for unaffiliated Greyhound Australia[47] and apparently Costa Rica.[48]

Stations

(This list covers stations within or adjacent to stations for regional rapid transit and commuter rail service.)

Greyhound has stations in most major cities in the counties where it operates, as well as some mid-size cities and towns. Some Greyhound locations function as part of transit centers primarily functioning as stations for regional or municipal rapid transit or commuter rail services, i.e. St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

In popular culture

See also

References

Further reading

  • Schisgall, Oscar (1985). The Greyhound Story: From Hibbing to everywhere. Chicago: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company (Doubleday). ISBN 0-385-19690-3.
  • Margolis, Richard J., "Sic paratransit gloria omnibus. (decline of rural bus service by Greyhound has led to services provided by vans and minibuses)", The New Leader, June 3, 1985.
  • Bluehounds and Redhounds, the histories of Greyhound and Trailways

External links

  • Greyhound Lines home page
  • Greyhound Canada
  • Greyhound Mexico
  • Greyhound UK
  • Greyhound Lines timetable
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