As bus companies welcome an influx of new and returning customers, they are reclaiming respectability. Greyhound has spent $60 million refurbishing its 1,250-strong fleet and its largest terminals. The iconic service leads other bus companies by a wide margin: It racked up nearly 5.8 billion passenger miles last year, transporting nearly 25 million people among its 2,200 terminals nationwide.
Investments in new, more comfortable, amenity-laden coaches with Wi-Fi connection and on-board movies ensure that patrons won’t leave the comforts of modern living behind.
To go any distance the bus is certainly cost-effective, financially. For longer journeys – coast-to-coast, for example – prices can be found around $180-200, almost half of the average east-west airplane fare.
The psychic cost may be steeper, however.
Cross-country bus trips can be grueling. They are costly in terms of time (up to three days). Such journeys may also define sleep deprivation. Riders are awakened and told to disembark every two to four hours. Transfers to connecting shuttles, driver changes, cleaning time, and rest breaks become the routine.
For those pushing the 50-hour, 60-hour, even 90-hour mark, including delays, the demand simply to remain coherent can absorb all one’s energy. Passengers may feel at times that they are being treated like cattle; nevertheless, order and discipline are required to keep to a schedule.
Short trips, including overnight, are worth it for most people. But there is a degree of stamina and determination required when it comes to the second day or third morning. At that point your destination may still be far away, in hours and in your priorities, and you may begin to question the necessity of it all. (This writer speaks from recent and extensive experience – numerous cross-country bus trips and frequent day journeys in the Northeast.)