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High gas prices boost bus travel

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Megabus, a low-cost service operating in the Midwest and Northeast, was the first to jump on the green bandwagon. For a few months at the beginning of this year, it gave away 100,000 bus tickets in order to “increase awareness about reducing carbon emissions by encouraging bus travel,” said Dale Moser, CEO of Stagecoach Group, which owns Megabus.

According to Megabus, one coach filled to capacity – effectively taking 56 cars off the road – means 3,850 fewer pounds of carbon emissions for every 100 miles traveled, compared with the emissions of 56 cars traveling the same distance
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So if 100,000 travelers fill 1,786 buses, it reduces CO2 emissions by a massive 6.9 million pounds for every 100 miles traveled.

Putting it another way, Mr. Moser says: “The fuel used on a Megabus double-decker driving from New York to Washington, D.C., amounts to 0.5 gallons of gas per passenger. Compare that to four people traveling by car for the same distance, where it’s 2.75 gallons per passenger.

“And seriously,” Moser continues, “how often do you see four people riding in a car? More likely it’s just one passenger. What’s clear is the bus is much greener, by far.”

As riders return, the old stigma of bus travel is evaporating, too. “Just 10 years ago, affluent travelers saw the bus as the last resort, a sign of desperation,” says Schwieterman.

To questions about a shifting clientele, Greyhound spokesman Eric Wesley diplomatically states that Greyhound carries people from “all walks of life.” This is hard to dispute; the bus doesn’t turn many people away. If one passenger is leaving his $40,000 SUV at home to save money on gasoline, his seatmate may well lack shoelaces and carry his possessions in smiley-face plastic bags from Wal-Mart.

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