BLOG FROM A GREYHOUND TRIP SOUTHEAST

January 27-February 1, 2010.

It is true that this Web site contains much information regarding Greyhound. The intercity bus industry does have a fascinating history, which generally is not as well documented as the history of railroads. However, to be honest, I am saddened by what Greyhound has now become. Longer ago was of course the unfortunate demise of a comprehensive intercity passenger railroad system in the United States. And in 1971, Amtrak was formed out of what remained of it. But during the 1980's, the intercity bus industry was deregulated. Which allowed Greyhound to focus just on the services which would be profitable. The result is now a Greyhound system which only serves the largest cities, operating express primarily via Interstate highways. Markets which are more ideally served by passenger trains. Buses are better suited for providing local services through the smaller towns. Bus sadly, Greyhound basically abandoned the small towns, leaving them with no intercity or interurban passenger transportation.

Amtrak trains are of course my preferred mode of intercity transportation. But I had a family event to attend in the southeastern part of the country. And the southeast has been difficult to reach via Amtrak, since the Chicago to Florida train was discontinued in 1979. This reason, combined with a new curiosity about Greyhound bus stations since adding that new area to my Web site, inspired me to make this trip exclusively via Greyhound. If I had to do this trip over again, I probably would do what I could to keep the Greyhound segments to a minimum. Too often I felt, that Greyhound was not adequately telling us what was going on. It is bad enough that Greyhound no longer issues printed timetables. But information is generally not posted or displayed at the bus stations either. One must rely on sometimes garbled public address announcements. In the 1970's, recorded announcements were played at Greyhound stations, with a clear and pleasant voice.

Departing Chicago, my destination was Fayetteville NC. And I returned to Chicago from Myrtle Beach SC. The trip each way too a little more than 24 hours. The trip from Chicago to Fayetteville required five buses, transferring at Cincinnati, Knoxville, Asheville NC, and Columbia SC. From Myrtle Beach to Chicago only required a transfer in Atlanta. What follows here, are some observations regarding some of today's Greyhound bus stations.

CHICAGO - I miss the old Greyhound station at Clark and Randolph. One level below street level was the waiting room and ticket office. And another level below that was there the buses stopped. The bus station driveways were connected to Lower Wacker Drive, enabling rapid access in and out of a centrally located terminal. In 1989, Greyhound moved to the present station at the edge of downtown. A single level building, accessed via regular city streets. In most other major cities we stopped at, the stations were similar. These included Cincinnati, Atlanta, Nashville, and Louisville.

INDIANAPOLIS - The only station we stopped at which was shared with Amtrak. But given Amtrak's appallingly limited presence there, this is the only place that I can think of, that I can call a "Greyhound bus station which is also served by Amtrak". The station was carved out underneath the trackage of the old Union Station, with access south of the tracks. Within the station is one stairway going up to the Amtrak platform.

The old station building is north of the tracks, part of a hotel, but is only used for special events.

KNOXVILLE - The only major "older" station which I stopped at. Ironically, I attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville about 30 years ago. But more often I rode Trailways, whose station was closer to the UT campus. I only rode Greyhound twice during that period, and I remember little about the Greyhound station. The station opened in 1959, I do not know if it looked different then. I did notice that the station had steps, meaning it dates from before wheelchair accessibility became fashionable. (Though Greyhound continues to lag behind, in making its buses accessible for wheelchairs.)

ASHEVILLE NC - Represents a bad trend for intercity buses in some cities. A cheap new facility located away from downtown, in the middle of nowhere. From Asheville to Fayetteville, the bus company was actually the independent Southeastern Stages.

GREENVILLE SC - Represents a good trend for intercity buses in other cities. Where a new intermodal facility has been constructed, used by both local and intercity buses.

COLUMBIA SC - Another cheap new station, located at the fringes of downtown.

SUMTER SC - An intermodal station, shared with the local transit system.

FLORENCE SC - A somewhat older station, though it had to be built after 1956.

LUMBERTON NC - Newer looking than Florence SC.

FAYETTEVILLE NC - Might have been worth photographing, but someone was meeting me there, and I did not get a chance. Station also had to be built after 1956.

MYRTLE BEACH SC - I do not know when it would have been built. Southeastern Stages operated the bus which I rode to Atlanta.

On the return trip, the only interesting station was in Augusta GA. But the bus stopped too briefly to be able to photograph.