Ride The Hound
June 16, 2007 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Ride the hound. Greyhound Lines has always been the travel choice for Americas' poor. Visit the Greyhound Museum. Hear some stories. Take the Greyhound trivia challenge.
posted by Xurando (26 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Weird story about the bus being hijacked. I hadn't heard about that, oddly, even though I would have been riding Greyhound a lot around that same time.

Also, it's not just for America's poor.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:31 PM on June 16, 2007


I can't figure out from this post what these (eleven!) links go to, so I'll have to take a pass on most of them them.

However I can't let the thread pass without pointing out that the Americruisers introduced around 1983 (which are now being phased out), have for many years been about the most beautiful things on the road.
posted by washburn at 2:53 PM on June 16, 2007


Also, it's not just for America's poor.

Thanks for being the person who said it.

While I don't have a lot of money, I tend to go Greyhound simply because I'm cheap, not so much because I have no other option. I could afford a plane ticket in most cases but typically I just take Greyhound because my time is cheap.

The best reason I like it is that when I travel, it also cuts down on the cost of lodging. Yes, sleeping on a bus isn't always comfortable but instead of wasting valuable time I could be sightseeing or doing other fun stuff by traveling during the day, I can travel at night and sleep as well. Since buses obviously take longer than planes and sometimes trains, I can get a nice 8 hours of sleep on a bus, like I did from Niagara Falls, ON to Boston two years ago.

Though frankly, sometimes I think it's just better off to go with a plane. I was tempted to take a bus to Mexico City from Rochester, NY. I'd save $100 from airfare but I'd spend 2 and a half days on a bus, with a half a dozen transfers, versus a 5 hour flight with only one transfer. I opted for the flight. I realize some people don't have that luxury but frankly, the Greyhound advantage is marginal.

Nonetheless, while I could go on about some adventures I've had riding Greyhound, I'll just end and say that it can still be a real experience.
posted by champthom at 2:53 PM on June 16, 2007


Greyhound Lines has always been the travel choice for Americas' poor.

Well, always until recently.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:06 PM on June 16, 2007


Greyhound is great when you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

Perhaps this is more relevant in western Canada where there is no train service and where the sheer distances mean it's cheaper to take the bus than to drive, but out here you don't see a lot of "poor people" taking the bus, just everyone who doesn't want to drive.
posted by watsondog at 3:10 PM on June 16, 2007


My first trip on a Greyhound, a three day ride from Wyoming to Kentucky, was one of the great experiences of my life. It was almost a spiritual retreat, watching America go by as I spent three days in almost total silence.
posted by Roman Graves at 6:07 PM on June 16, 2007


There was a Greyhound hijacking? What, did the perp pull a gun and tell the driver, "Take this bus to Wichita immediately, I'm giving you nine days to get there!"
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:13 PM on June 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, it's not just for America's poor.

Of course, anyone is free to buy a ticket and ride Greyhound. But in my experience, the people on Greyhound buses are predominantly poor.

These days, when almost anyone can afford air travel, most of those riding the buses seem to be bad financial straits.

I have had a lot of fucked-up experiences on Greyhound buses. There are some seriously deranged people riding the 'hound.
posted by jayder at 9:09 PM on June 16, 2007



The museum is actually fairly well done. Hibbing is my hometown and not many things I would recommend for people to see if they are going there, but the museum would be one of them.
posted by fluffycreature at 9:16 PM on June 16, 2007


Greyhound is great when you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

That was something I noticed whenever I rode the 'hound - the bus seemed to randomly stop in the middle of nowhere to pick up passengers. I'm talking a rural road with nothing else in sight, and no sign to mark it as a bus stop.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:06 PM on June 16, 2007


I'm getting on a Greyhound Bus in 15 hours, for the first time in 20 years (have to get to a town in the middle of nowhere 21 hours from here). I'm looking forward to it. I'll be packing a pretty good lunch.

My best Greyhound memory is from the late 1980s, somewhere between Cleveland and Chicago -- I woke up to find the bus completely full and a little kid sitting next to me (her mom and sisters were sitting close by).

She had crayons but no paper; I had a notebook but no crayons. She took over, and didn't want to tear the pictures out when she and her family got off in Chicago. I still have her six-year-old drawings, which are precocious and amazing -- I hope to think I'll see her work in a gallery sometime and make the connection.
posted by gum at 10:53 PM on June 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm from Canada. Greyhound Canada is pretty indispensable, and definitely not "for poor people". You get movies, the buses are pretty clean, the people are pretty great, the scenery isn't too bad (but boy do I hate western Ontario, I think it gets wider every time I go across it), it's generally a pretty good option and I really enjoyed exploring the country aboard them.

So, between high school and university, I bought a 60-day Ameripass, which gives you infinite trips aboard Greyhound in Canada and the US.

Wow. What a difference. As best as I can figure out, if you have to pay less for it, in America, they're going to make it as shitty as possible. My memories include wondering if I was going to get killed in the LA station, power outages in Kansas City as we waited through the night for a transfer, breathing hours of the most horrible diesel fumes between DC and NY on an incredibly broken and bumpy I-95, dozens upon dozens of dirty, crappy little bus stations in cities big and small (all the bus stations are about the same size though). The first time I came across grits was in the cafeteria-type area of the Chicago Greyhound station, but they looked exactly like the eggs.

That being said, I couldn't have done it any other way, and I think buses are pretty great. I just wish Greyhound itself wasn't so shitty in the US.
posted by blacklite at 11:59 PM on June 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, Greyhound Canada is cleaner, and there are more pit-stops to stretch your legs, sensibly timed for meals, etc. You only seem to get movies in the praries, but maybe that's because they think the praries are even more boring to look at than Western Ontario. They are also much better about tickets - the standard ticket is open, and you can get on and off whenever you like. The Americans are hard-asses about making you pick a bus, and quite rude about it too (they make you pick a specific bus, but don't have schedules available for you to look at it - or maybe that is just the one office I always deal with - they seem to have had considerable anti-customer service training). Then they drive for 12 hours, stopping for a rest break only once (at 4pm on the 8am to 8pm drive - a stupid time). It's because they switch drivers so often -- in Canada you stop a lot more often to give the driver a break.

That said, there is this one driver out of New York north up towards Rochester and Buffalo (can't remember when he gets off) who is really funny. I kept getting him for a while.

But I think there is also a prejudice against Greyhound buses from Americans, which you don't have in Canada. Americans have said as much when I said I was taking the bus - that only poor people (and often unsaid, but implicit, non-white) people would take the bus. Whereas in Canada, you do meet all types, white, non-white, poor, middle-class, young and old (though more young than old on the really long trips).
posted by jb at 3:49 AM on June 17, 2007


Greyhound exists in Australia too, now, having bought out their (local? I think) competitor a couple years ago. Next week, in fact, I'm leaving with a friend on a trip from Brisbane to Cairns and back, stopping at cool beaches along the way.
posted by jacalata at 5:38 AM on June 17, 2007


is it only me and my friends who call it "riding the dawg"?
posted by RedEmma at 7:56 AM on June 17, 2007


Except that here in BC, Greyhound has been on strike, leaving the poor completely in the lurch for travel between rural towns and cities. Being that not all specialized medical services are available in small towns, Greyhound has effectively forced the denial of treatment for a lot of people.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:36 AM on June 17, 2007


Greyhound Canada sounds great -- possibly one of those modes of transit that you have to take just to experience it.

I don't think Greyhound in the States is all that bad, though. I've taken my fair share of buses, and I've never really feared for my safety or been bothered in any way.

I remember one time, when my girlfriend and I were long-distance (she in Boston, I in Philly), and we were saying a protracted goodbye outside a Greyhound. After I finally got on, the driver looked at my girlfriend and said, "You wanna go with him? Hop on, there's plenty of room. I won't charge you."

It was a funny thing to say, since the likelihood of her doing so was so slim (she didn't get on, but we do live together now), but we both got the impression he was 100 percent serious.
posted by hifiparasol at 9:22 AM on June 17, 2007


It's funny reading this thread... I do my 1 1/2 hour commute via Greyhound Canada. To me it's neither (exclusively) for poor people nor for long trips (gleh!).
posted by carmen at 9:57 AM on June 17, 2007


is it only me and my friends who call it "riding the dawg"?


Nope. We call it that as well.

I used to ride the Greyhound, alone, when I was about 10 or so. My family would put me on it, at the front, and send me across the state (North Dakota) from Bismarck to Fargo to see my grandmother. The busdriver would keep an eye on me.

I've taken the Greyhound so many times...and yes, part of it was that I was a starving college student. But I'd still take it. I took it once from the west coast all the way to the east coast. Now THAT is an experience, seeing the country from one end to the other without having the distractions of driving yourself. It's an experience I would recommend to anyone.
posted by Windigo at 10:10 AM on June 17, 2007


I often rode Greyhound overnight out to Ohio when I was in college. I usually arrived rested, though there were occasional chatty passengers. And there was that one time that the PA state police closed the turnpike, forcing me to spend the night at the Philadelphia Greyhound station. Maybe not my favorite way to travel, but I never had any major complaints.

After traveling in India for several months, I took Greyhound to get back to campus. Let me just say this: riding in a bus is far less exiting when there aren't any live chickens running up and down the isle, and when the bus drivers don't randomly get out of the bus in the middle of the night to throw rocks at rabbits in the road.
posted by metabrilliant at 12:08 PM on June 17, 2007


Greyhound exists because the US doesn't believe in trains. There's a reason that Greyhound Europe will never exist.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:08 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yea, that's mostly becuase the bus niche is already filled by Eurolines and other small companies.
posted by jacalata at 8:52 PM on June 17, 2007


I've done my fair share of travel on Greyhound buses in the US and Canada. I agree with the original poster, and several of the commenters. In Canada, it's a lot of regular nice people. Cross the border into the US, and fills with odorous shambling zombies of lower middle class/working poor.
posted by theducks at 9:28 PM on June 17, 2007


Back in the 70's, Greyhound was often a blast, in the States. Yea, it had plenty of things wrong as well. In those days, they tended to only stop to eat at their own over-priced low-quality cafeterias. There were often unpleasant people on them. But also a big tendency to be full of young people ready to party.

My favorite ride though was leaving Portland, Oregon, headed for New York. It was one of those 1956 Scenicruisser buses. The back part is higher than the front. I had a front seat on the high part. The route followed the Columbia River, uphill eastward. Only it didn't stay on the road, it flew up into the stars. It was awesome! (why, yes, I took a little tablet before boarding the bus. Why do you ask?)
posted by Goofyy at 3:02 AM on June 18, 2007


But I think there is also a prejudice against Greyhound buses from Americans, which you don't have in Canada. Americans have said as much when I said I was taking the bus - that only poor people (and often unsaid, but implicit, non-white) people would take the bus. Whereas in Canada, you do meet all types, white, non-white, poor, middle-class, young and old (though more young than old on the really long trips).

I think one reason is that a large percentage of Greyhound users in Canada are travelling from their hometowns to the nearest big city and back, either as commuters or just to spend a day in the city. These towns don't have air service or train service, so unless you're able to drive you take the bus. Greyhound also has much nicer services on their busier routes (Calgary-Edmonton in particular) if only to compete with other bus lines.

I think the yokel express between Calgary and Edmonton must be about 50% little old ladies going shopping in the big city and 50% college students.
posted by watsondog at 3:50 AM on June 18, 2007


I took it once from the west coast all the way to the east coast. Now THAT is an experience, seeing the country from one end to the other without having the distractions of driving yourself. It's an experience I would recommend to anyone.

Definitely! I did Toronto to Vancouver, and I would love to do the whole country in one go sometime (but are there buses past Montreal? I think it may be another company in the Maritimes). When I fly, I find it's like being transported - I don't really understand the distance I've travelled. But driving and seeing it all - it makes you really start to appreciate the space and geography of a country. Perhaps not as intimately as walking or cycling, but if you don't have months or years to dedicate to travelling, it's the next best thing.
posted by jb at 8:45 AM on June 21, 2007


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