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High gas prices boost bus travel

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Longtime passengers have noticed a changing clientele. Amy Cogan, a 20-something who has traveled between Boston and New York by bus for a decade, says more young people and business types – the “train crowd,” as she describes them – have appeared on her bus.

Bus personnel have also noticed the shift. Byron G., a veteran of the Greyhound operations staff in the Washington, D.C., bus terminal, says passengers have “definitely become more diverse” in the last 10 years.

“I see more yuppies coming through,” Byron says, declining to give his full name because he is not an official Greyhound spokesman. “More young people, more economically advantaged people, you might say.”

Eighteen years ago, Greyhound and its competitors were embroiled in bankruptcy, stalled by years of labor strikes and going nowhere fast.

Older, less-trafficked bus stations (in this writer’s experience) may still feature a lone security guard at night overseeing throngs of weary travelers while trying to police the entrance, where peddlers, homeless people, and suspicious characters may set up shop at night.

By contrast, most larger, modern bus terminals are surprisingly well-ordered. If not exactly pleasant, they are well lit and smell like a hospital hallway.

Mass transit, with its environmental cachet, would seem to loom large in transportation’s future, says transportation expert Keith Schneider of the Apollo Alliance, a San Francisco-based think tank focused on clean energy and green-collar jobs.

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