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Go Greyhound on Memorial Day

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, and with it comes the unofficial start to the summer of 2024!  Camp YesterYear will be returning soon, but for now, we reflect upon Memorial Day.  It's meant to be a time we think about those who gave up everything so the rest of us can live under the freedom this country offers.  Unfortunately, for most, it's just become a weekend for vacations, barbeques, and doing a little boozin', but I like to spend time each year thinking about the true meaning of the holiday.  

Without being a total downer this Memorial Day, I thought I'd like to go back in time to when Americans breathed a little easier.  After World War II ended, folks began to earn a little extra money, purchase modern conveniences, and expand their families during the baby boom.  Those parents desired to take said new children on vacations and show them firsthand what our country offered.  

I don't mean to diminish or push aside the sacrifices of those who gave us our freedoms, but with all that's going on in the news lately, I have been thinking about our country and our freedom a lot.  Our freedoms extend beyond just the basics of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

The freedom to move around, well... freely... is one that Americans take for granted.  

We can explore, chase a better life with a new job, follow a romantic interest, or just participate in new life experiences with folks from different corners of the nation.  

For most of the last century, one of the most prominent symbols of that freedom to roam was the iconic silver Greyhound bus rumbling down America's highways.  

I've always loved to travel, as I've written quite a bit about here.  In college, I got it in my head that I wanted to take a Greyhound bus from coast to coast.  I may love planes, but I also love buses, and I certainly love a good road trip.  Taking a bus from coast to coast seemed like a great way to see the country, and it was certainly affordable for a poor college student like me.   I invested a lot of time during the spring planning for that trip, pouring over different schedules on Greyhound's website.  I made a list of places I've always wanted to see and picked the best itinerary that would let me see most of them.  It would have taken 9 or 10 days, primarily because of the off-the-wall route I planned and the stops I intended to take, but come summer, I was all set to go on a crash course of America.  

As I finished the semester, I still had a handful of flight lessons that extended beyond the semester before my Commercial Pilot Certificate test.  By the time that was out of the way, the summer was half over.  I was then informed that I shouldn't expect to lounge around home for the next few weeks, and that I needed to find a job for the rest of summer.  That's how I ended up working in a craft store, and before I knew it, I never did go on that trip. 

It makes me sad when I think about the lost opportunity.  Knowing what Greyhound has become in 2024, there is no way that my wife would entertain the notion of such a trip, let alone let me go by myself for two weeks on a bus ride.  That trip was definitely for a young single college student, and I missed my shot.  

Oh well.  I see the countryside enough these days at work, albeit from a few miles up.

Today, I can enjoy watching YouTubers crisscross the country via our nation's interstate bus system, and it's nowhere near as glamorous as it was when I was in college, which is saying something because, in 2003, it was nowhere near as glamorous as it was in 1953.  And that's even with nostalgia's rose-colored glasses version of 1953 bus travel! 

This one is a VERY deep dive, similar to many of my older posts.  It's kind of long-winded because I really enjoy taking such deep looks at certain companies from YesterYear, and I hope that today, you enjoy reading about Greyhound!

From a small company in a rural mining town in Minnesota, Greyhound grew into the nationwide network we are now familiar with.  Through many different mergers and acquisitions, the "silver dog" became synonymous with long-distance, low-cost travel.  There are many conflicting reports about Greyhound's very early days, so I tried my best to piece them together.  Memorial Day weekend was often Greyhound's busiest week of the year, so... here... we... go!

Greyhound's story begins in 1913 in Hibbing, Minnesota, with Carl Eric Wickman, an entrepreneurial Swedish immigrant laid off from his job as an iron ore miner who saw the potential of using automobiles to connect rural communities.  Don't forget, the automobile was only invented some 20 years earlier!  While Wickman wasn't the first to do so, if it weren't for him, Greyhound and modern bus companies wouldn't exist!

After being laid off in 1914 from his job at an iron ore mine in Alice, Minnesota, he became a car salesman specializing in selling The Hupmobile.  The Hupp Motor Car Company produced the Hupmobile from 1909 to 1939.  When he couldn't sell his first seven-passenger Hupmobile, he used it to transport the iron ore minors two miles down the road to Alice for 15 cents per ride.  For reference, 15 cents in 1914 is equivalent to $4.89 in 2024! 

The harsh Minnesota winters almost caused the company to fold in its first year, but Wickman agreed to continue only by reducing his own driving duties.  He hired fellow Swedish immigrants Andy Anderson and Arvid Heed to share the load.  

In 1915, Wickman added a 15-mile route to Nashwauk, Minnesota.  In December of that year, Wickman merged his company with one owned by 19-year-old Ralph Bogan, calling the new company The Mesaba Transportation Company.  Bogan's company had been running a similar transportation service from Hibbing to Duluth.

By 1918, The Mesaba Transportation Company had 18 vehicles and an annual income of $40,000.  Today, in 2024, that same income would be $827,369!  

In 1922, Wickman and Heed sold their interest in the company to the young Ralph Bogan and Andy Anderson.  Eric Wickman and Arvis Heed then purchased Duluth-based White Bus Lines.

In 1924, Wickman acquired the Superior-White Company and merged it with White Bus Lines to form Northland Transportation.  The founder of Superior-White, Orville S. Caesar, became President of the new company while Wickman remained CEO.  By the end of the following year (1925), Northland had completed a $2.5 million acquisition of eight independent bus lines from around Minnesota, quickly becoming the largest transportation company in the northern portion of the United States.

By 1928, Wickman had happily purchased the Mesaba Transportation Company back from Anderson and Bogan and folded it into Northland.  Northland continued its rapid expansion, and by the end of the year, it had a reported income of $6 million and was offering bus trips across the entire country.  

In 1929, Wickman's company continued growth through acquisition, purchasing Pickwick Stage Lines, owned by California-based hospitality company Pickwick Corporation.  They also purchased the Yelloway-Pioneer System, a group of independently owned intercity bus companies.  Yelloway made news in 1928 by making the first same-company transcontinental bus trip available through its intra-company connections.

Later that year, the company also acquired Gray Line Worldwide and Colonial Motor Coach Company.  Gray Line and Colonial merged to form Eastern Greyhound Lines, and at the same time, Northland Transportation renamed itself Northland Greyhound Lines.  The name Greyhound reportedly comes from a driver who witnessed the bus driving down the road going "as fast as a Greyhound," and so the name Greyhound was born. 

By 1930, more than 100 different bus lines had consolidated under Wickman's original organization.  This parent organization was then given the name Motor Transit Corporation.  Motor Transit wanted to move its headquarters to a "big city," and MTC left Duluth for Chicago.  The Greyhound name had caught on nationwide, and the executives of Motor Transit Corporation decided to align everything under that name, officially changing the holding company's name from Motor Transit to The Greyhound Corporation.  

Soon, the Great Depression hit America, and like everything else, the business suffered greatly.  By 1931, the company was over $1 million in debt.  As the 1930s progressed and the economy slowly recovered, Greyhound eventually did as well.

Through some planning, good connections, and a stroke of luck, the film "It Happened One Night," starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, debuted in theaters in 1934.  It portrayed a heiress traveling the country via Greyhound with a reporter in tow.  While not a proper advertisement for Greyhound, it depicted travel by bus as a glamorous, somewhat romantic, and exciting experience.  Suddenly, Greyhound ridership nearly doubled overnight, everyone wishing to live the life they saw on the silver screen.  

Transportation historians credit the film with helping spur the post-depression travel boom.  By the end of 1934, Greyhound was the largest intercity bus carrier, transporting approximately 400 million people.  

By 1935, national inter-state bus ridership had climbed over 50% to 652 million passengers, surpassing the number of riders on cross-country railroads for the first time.  In 1935, Wickman and his Greyhound company reported a profit of $8 million, and in early 1936, while already the largest bus company in the United States, they placed an order for 306 brand new buses - quite an impressive number in the middle of the Great Depression.

Before Greyhound, long-distance travel was a luxury reserved only for the uber-wealthy.  Trains dominated the landscape then but only offered a limited number of departures and destinations.  Train travel was also costly compared to bus travel.  

Greyhound made travel affordable for nearly everyone.  Its network stretched far and wide, and the new accessibility opened a new chapter in American life.  Now, almost anyone could visit distant relatives, explore new business opportunities, or simply enjoy the beauty and wonder of the far corners of America.

Between 1937 and 1945, Greyhound acquired several new buses and built many new passenger terminals.  These new stations were built in an Art Deco style called "Streamline Moderne."  Designed by notable architects William Strudwick Arrasmith and George D. Brown, these beautiful new stations included amenities bus passengers were unaccustomed to, such as comfortable indoor seating, large, clean bathrooms, and full-service restaurants instead of just snack stands.  These were significant improvements over the huts, parking lots, and street corners that bus passengers used to. 

Greyhound also began working with bus manufacturers to "streamline" the "onboard experience" as well, creating a standard platform that any rider in any corner of the country would experience.  At first, Greyhound teamed with Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company for the "Series 700" buses, with the first entering service in 1937.  Greyhound purchased a total of 1,256 of these buses between 1937 and 1939 and dubbed these buses the "Super Coach."  

A 1937 Series 700 "Super Coach"

In an advertisement at the time (seen below, owned by, Greyhound advertised these new buses as the first to move the luggage to a compartment below the passenger compartment.  The passenger seats are now higher, allowing for better viewing and less "road vibration."  Pull down window shades, better lighting, and "refreshing, breeze-cooled ventilation."  

At the start of World War II, in 1940, Greyhound had nearly 10,000 employees and made stops at 4,750 destinations.  Eric Wickman would retire in 1946 as President of Greyhound Corporation and tapped his long-time partner Orville Caesar as his replacement.  Wickman would pass away nine years later, in 1954, at 66 years old. 

1947 Greyhound "Silversides"

Toward the end of Wickman's tenure, Greyhound asked industrial engineer Raymond Loewy to work with General Motors on the design of several distinctive buses for the company.  Loewy's first design was the 1940 Yellow Coach PDG-4101, nicknamed the "Silversides."  Due to the amount of metal used in production, this design was suspended during World War II and resumed in 1947 under the name GM PD3751.  The GM version continued for several years.

Then, in what (to this humble writer) is the most distinctive and memorable of all Greyhound busses is the 1954 humpback coach made by General Motors:  the PD4501, named "The Scenicruiser."

The Greyhound "Scenicruiser"

The Scenicruiser was a full doubler-decker "parlor bus" designed by Loewy.  Its forward section was significantly lower than the rear, allowing the riders to view forward and slightly above the bus through large forward windows.  These new buses featured air conditioning, air-ride suspension, and onboard lavatories.  

The Scenicruiser's popularity with the public inspired two additional models, the PD4107 and 4903 "Buffalo Bus."  These came in 35 and 40-foot-long models and included a much less apparent upper level that ran almost the length of the entire coach.  However, these later models were not made exclusively for Greyhound.

Greyhound buses quickly became a cultural icon in themselves.  The sleek, aerodynamic "Sceniccruiser" embodied the optimism and innovation of the post-war era.  These more luxurious buses offered a truly scenic ride as folks explored this great nation.  Sceniccruisers would become so iconic that they were featured in movies and television and even graced the cover of Life Magazine.  

After the Second World War, the United States dove head first into developing the Interstate Highway System.  I wrote about this briefly in other deep-dives, such as Howard Johnson's Restaurants and Motels and the Motel 6 brand of motels, so if you'd like, check those out.  As the landscape of travel changed and the interstate highway system expanded, car travel became more comfortable and convenient for many Americans, who, with the move to the rapidly growing suburbs, came new car purchases for daily commutes. At the same time, airlines began offering somewhat affordable and faster means of travel for long distances, and Greyhound began facing more and more difficulties finding passengers.

Yet, like the American spirit, they continued to adapt.

In 1953, Greyhound acquired Tennessee Coach Company's entire bus operation, which included Blue Ridge Lines and its affiliate White Star.  The operation covered much of the routes between Cleveland and the Carolina coast.  

As society and culture changed in America during the 50s, the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled in 1955, based on Keys vs. Carolina Coach Company, that interstate bus operations (including but not specifically Greyhound) could not be segregated by race.  A few years later, in 1960, the U.S. Supreme Court found in Boynton vs. Virginia that African Americans had been wrongfully convicted for trespassing the "whites only" terminal area of a bus station.  

In May of 1961, Civil Rights Movement organizers and activists participated in interracial "Freedom Rides" to celebrate, show off, and prove the worth of the new desegregation rules.  However, on May 14, a mob attacked a pair of buses (Greyhound and Trailways) headed between Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Greyhound bus was forced by the mob to stop just outside of Anniston, Alabama, where its tires were slashed, its windows broken, and firebombed.  

The mob attempted to hold the doors shut so the riders would burn to death, but either an exploding fuel tank or an undercover investigator with a revolver (there are conflicting reports about this incident) caused the mob to back off.  When the riders escaped the bus, the mob beat them with any weapon available.  At about the same time, Freedom Riders were also beaten by a mob at the Greyhound Bus Station in Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1966, Gerald H. Trautman became the new President and CEO of the company and began investing profits from the bus operations into other industries.  In 1970, they acquired the Armour and Company meat-packing business for $400 million.  Armour also owned the Dial Soap brand.  Bet you didn't know that Greyhound technically made Dial, did you?  Me either!

In 1971, Trautman convinced the board to move the company's headquarters from Chicago, Illinois, to Phoenix, Arizona.  The company also acquired Traveller's Express money orders, MCI and TMC bus manufacturers, and an airliner leasing company.  

Greyhound introduced a very popular promotion in 1972 called the "Ameripass."  This pass was touted as an unlimited mileage card, initially offering "99 days for $99" or transportation "anywhere, anytime" for $1.00 per day.  This was an extremely popular choice for people traveling across the States on a tight budget for decades.  The Ameripass would eventually have its price tag raised, and when the price got too high for most travelers, the promotion ended altogether.  It returned shortly after with a shortened availability period and rebranded to "Discovery Pass."  The Discovery Pass was quietly retired in 2012.  

On November 2, 1983, Greyhound's drivers went on strike.  The strike was bitter and contentious and was made even worse when a "replacement" (scab) driver ran over and killed a striking worker on the picket line.  Accidental or not, it didn't help things.  A new contract was signed between both parties just in time for Christmas, and the drivers returned to work on December 20, 1983.

Greyhound Corporation's next major acquisition came in 1984 when it purchased Premier Cruise Line.  Between 1985 and 1993, Premier was the "Official Cruise Line of Walt Disney World," featuring onboard Disnonboardacters and other Disney-branded celebrations.  

As an aside, in 1993, Premier notified Disney it would be ending its contract with the Magical Mouse.  It would immediately switch to Warner Brothers and use Looney Tunes characters on its ships instead.  

In hindsight, this was a big mistake, as Disney turned to Carnival and Royal Caribbean to continue running the profitable Disney-themed cruises.  When a deal couldn't be reached with the two other cruise lines by 1995, Disney stopped trying.  In 1996, Disney announced the formation of Disney Cruise Lines, which today is one of the most successful cruise lines in the world!  

I have to shake my head at Premier telling Disney to take a hike.  This has to be one of the biggest business blunders of all time.  I'm sure Disney would have eventually started their own cruise line, but perhaps they would have made Premier an offer... 

Around the time of the Premier purchase, Greyhound operated a fleet of 3,800 buses, carrying about 60% of all intercity bus traffic in the United States.

Years later, in early 1987, the bus line was acquired by an investor group led by Fred Currey, a former executive of rival Continental Trailways.  He became CEO of Greyhound and relocated the headquarters from Phoenix to Dallas, Texas.  

In June of that year, Greyhound Lines, under the leadership of Fred Currey, purchased his former company, Trailways, Inc. (formerly Continental Trailways), which was the largest member of Greyhound's biggest rival, Trailways Transportation System.  This effectively consolidated the two largest brands into a national bus service.  

Also in 1987, Greyhound Corporation purchased the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain, expanding their hospitality portfolio.  Ritz was sold off in 1998.

Between 1987 and 1990, Greyhound's parent company continued to be called The Greyhound Corporation, creating confusion among investors, employees, and customers.  The Corporation retained Premier Cruise Lines and ten non-bus subsidiaries, all using the Greyhound name, such as Greyhound Leisure Services, a duty-free gift shop operator.

In March 1990, Greyhound Corporation officially changed its name to Greyhound Dial Corporation.  Still, the Greyhound Dial name caused many problems, including overloading the Greyhound Dial headquarters phone switchboard with bus passengers asking questions or trying to book reservations.  The company changed its name to The Dial Corporation in less than a year to eliminate any confusion with bus travel.

At about that time, the driver's strike-earned contract from 1987 had expired, and in March of 1990, the ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) began another strike action against Greyhound.  The strike was similar to the last, with emotions running extremely high.  Violent clashes between the drivers and their temporary replacements occurred, and in California, just like last time, another striking bus driver was run over by a "replacement" driver.  In return, gunshots were fired at several Greyhound buses being driven by "replacement" drivers.  

CEO Fred Currey argued that he doesn't "negotiate with terrorists," and ATU leader Edward Strait responded that management's failure to negotiate amounted to "putting the negotiations back into the hands of terrorists."  As tensions continued to rise during the strike by the 6,300 drivers, Greyhound was forced to park most of its fleet of 4,000 buses and cancel 80% of its route schedule.  

At the same time, Greyhound was forced to contend with the rise of low-cost airlines such as Southwest Airlines and ValuJet, reducing the market for long-distance inter-city bus rides.  Without the financial strength provided in the past by a successful parent company, the strike's lower revenue and higher costs led Greyhound to file for bankruptcy in June of 1990.

The strike was not settled until May 1993, over 38 months from its start, under terms favorable to the company.  The National Labor Relations Board awarded damages to the drivers for past unfair labor practices.  This was no win for the drivers as the company was able to discharge this payment later under bankruptcy reorganization.  In the end, Greyhound agreed to pay union drivers $22 million in back wages.  They also agreed to recall the 550 remaining drivers and reinstate most of the 200 employees fired during the strike.  Driver's hourly pay was also increased to $16.55, up from $13.90.  

In August 1991, Greyhound emerged from bankruptcy with a smaller workforce and bus fleet.  The company had dropped from 12,000 employees pre-bankruptcy to less than 8,000.  The fleet of buses, which at one time approached 4,000, had shrunk to 2,750.  

A year later, Greyhound canceled its bus terminal license agreements with other carriers at over 200 terminals nationwide, imposing a requirement that Greyhound be the sole seller of the tenant's bus tickets.  This effectively controlled the competition and collected fees on other companies' ticket sales.  

The United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division sued to stop this practice in 1995, alleging that it was an illegal restraint of trade that reduced competition and was bad for consumers.  In February 1996, the DOJ won the case, and Greyhound again agreed to permit its bus station tenants to sell their tickets.

In September 1998, Greyhound, facing pressure from activist groups, promised to accommodate disabled passengers, agreeing to equip "most" buses with wheelchair lifts and handicap-accessible board lavatories.

Despite their financial troubles, Greyhound Lines purchased Carolina Trailways in 1997 and Southeastern Trailways in 1998.  With these two purchases, most of the remaining members of the Trailways System had no choice but to quickly begin cooperative interline agreements with Greyhound, discontinue scheduled services in favor of charters and tours, or go out of business altogether.

In September 1997, Ontario, Canada-based transportation conglomerate Laidlaw announced it would buy Greyhound Canada for $72 million USD.  A year later, in October 1998, Laidlaw announced it was purchasing the United States operations of Greyhound Lines, Inc. and all of its Greyhound affiliates for $470 million. 

After only a few years of operation, in June 2001, Laidlaw filed for bankruptcy protection in both the US and Canada.  It cited heavy losses through investments in Greyhound and its other diversified businesses.

The new Laidlaw International, Inc. emerged from reorganization on June 23, 2003, but by that time in 2003, Greyound faced significant competition in the metropolitan areas of the northeastern United States from what has become known as "Chinatown bus companies."  According to Wikipedia, a Chinatown bus company is "a discount intercity bus service in the United States, often operated by Chinese Americans, primarily Fujianese."  

More than 250 buses, operated by competitors Fung Wah Bus Transportation and Lucky Star Bus, were undercutting the "big companies" from sidewalk curbs (rather than bus depots) in cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.  They offered ridiculously low fares that were sometimes  50% less than whatever Greyhound advertised.  Between 2000 and 2007, these Chinatown buses took over 60% of Greyhound's market share in the lucrative Northeast.

Meanwhile, on the other coast, Greyhound expanded its own brand of commuter buses called QuickLink.  Running frequently during peak weekday commuting hours, Greyhound poured money into routes in and out of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento in California, and Atlanta, Georgia.  Eventually it was expanded to several other major markets.  These "Park-and-Ride" services allowed commuters to leave their cars in suburban lots and take the bus into the city center.  This eased traffic congestion and provided a comfortable, affordable alternative to the daily commute.

By the end of 2004, Greyhound cut 37% of its network by dropping or consolidating low-demand rural stops and concentrating on more metropolitan routes.  Some rural areas in the upper midwest and Plains states saw local operators receive government subsidies to take over the old Greyhound routes.  

Greyhound chugged along for a few years until February of 2007 when British transportation company FirstGroup acquired Laidlaw International for $3.6 billion.  By then, Greyhound had become synonymous with unreliable service, run-down and dirty buses, unfriendly employees, and the chance of getting murdered or kidnapped by your fellow riders along the way.  

Okay, I may have made that last part up, but most people assumed that anyone riding Greyhound is using it as a "last resort" or the need or desire to keep a low profile.  

Immediately, FirstGroup sought to rehabilitate Greyhound's tarnished image by refurbishing terminals, expanding the fleet with brand new buses, and providing new training to customer service staff.  Greyhound also retained advertising company Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners for a new ad campaign that targeted 18-24-year-olds looking to travel on a budget.   

On March 27, 2008, Greyhound launched a new brand called "BoltBus."  These new BoltBuses were new Prevost coaches that featured wireless internet, charging ports at each seat, footrests, and cupholders.  Initially, BoltBus had one seat on each bus that randomly was sold for only $1, excluding ticket charges, to compete with Megabus, a competitor who offered a similar promotion.  As a much cheaper alternative to Amtrak, these new buses began schedules between Boston, New York, and Washington, DC.  

BoltBus was initially operated in the Northeast in partnership with Peter Pan Bus Lines, where Peter Pan would operate as "BoltBus" for Greyhound.  This arrangement ended in September 2017 when Greyhound took over the operation using their own buses.  

BoltBus expanded to the West Coast in 2012, with routes between Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.  In 2013, the brand was again expanded between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland.  Later, stops in San Jose and Las Vegas were added.  

In 2013, Greyhound partnered with DriveCam and added video cameras across its entire fleet to increase passenger and driver safety and monitor driver compliance.  They combined bus-produced data and video analytics with real-time driver feedback to create a "safer and more comfortable" experience.  The verdict on whether these things have improved is still out.

By the end of 2014, Greyhound had only 1,229 buses and 3,800 destinations, claiming to have driven 5.5 billion miles on America's roads that year.  

At the start of 2015, the company introduced a refreshed logo and a new navy blue and dark gray livery for its buses.  The buses were also refurbished on the inside when given the new paint scheme, adding wireless internet, power outlets, and leather seating that offered slightly more legroom. 

Even before FirstGroup took over, Greyhound had long faced criticism for leaving passengers behind due to overbooking and misconnections.  In 2015, FirstGroup began a program in select markets where riders could reserve a seat for an additional $5.  However, only a limited number of seats could be reserved, and oddly, the $5 fee would have to be paid in person at a terminal ticket counter, even if you bought and paid for your ticket online.

At the same time, they rolled out a new yield management computer system (think of it as an algorithm for passenger demand on a per-route basis) that enabled the company to closely manage the number of tickets sold for each departure and adjust pricing dynamically.  The number of overbooked buses sharply declined, but even today, in 2024, Greyhound still will not guarantee a seat for everyone with a ticket (except on Greyhound Express).  

That year, Greyhound also reported a profit of $73 million on revenues of $990.6 million, attributing the company's success to a mix of changing urban populations and their focus on the more profitable routes with higher demand.  

In July 2015, the company announced that it would open terminals in Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and begin service between the two cities and Texas, claiming to be the first American bus company to operate an intra-Mexican route.

Around 2016, Greyhound began service under the brand name "Lucky Streak," providing service to and from cities with casinos.  All fares are sold as "open-ended" round trips, allowing passengers to return at any time.  Hey, when the tables are hot...

On the Atlantic City route, casinos offer riders special bonuses such as gambling credits, room and dining discounts, and more.  Lucky Streak drives to Atlantic City from Baltimore, Brooklyn, New York City, Philly, and Washington, DC.  

The Lucky Streak also provides service to the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos in Connecticut to and from several cities in New York and New England, and of course, the casinos in Las Vegas through several cities in California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.  

Following heavy losses through the pandemic, in December 2020, the company began selling off customer terminal facilities, most notably in Los Angeles, Denver, Colorado, and Ottawa, Canada, for $137 million.  

In May 2021, Greyhound Canada shut down all its routes in Canada.  However, Greyhound continues to operate four cross-border routes that either start or finish in the US from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.  

Two months later, in July, Greyhound called it quits on BoltBus.  The BoltBus routes were taken over with standard Greyhound service.   That same month, they began selling off more bus stations, such as Columbus and Cincinnati in Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky.  Columbus was sold to the Central Ohio Transit Authority, while the Louisville and Cincinnati ones were sold to real estate companies, who planned to promptly convert them to downtown parking lots.  

In October 2021, Munich, Germany-based FlixBus purchased Greyhound (the bus operation) for only $78 million.  At the start of 2022, FirstGroup sold the remaining Greyhound properties (stations and bus depots) to Twenty Lake Holdings, LLC, for approximately $140 million.  Twenty Lake began closing properties in 2023, leaving many Greyhound passengers without sheltered spaces or amenities at their departure or connection point.  In 2024, many Greyhound "stops" are now just street corners, convenience stores, or gas stations without parking, food options, bathrooms, or other services Greyhound once offered.  

Not exactly the pleasant experience it once was.

Greyhound has appeared numerous times in film and television in the past.  Most often, a Greyhound bus appears in the background of a scene, or a character is seen getting on or off a bus, but several films highlight the company, with the bus becoming a central plot point.  

An iconic scene from the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy shows the main characters, played by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, on a bus to Florida.  The 1974 film Harry and Tonto stars Art Carney as he travels cross-country with his pet cat aboard a Greyhound.  The 1988 Tom Cruise film Cocktail opens with the main character (Cruise) retelling his story aboard a Greyhound bus headed for New York City.  

In a pivotal scene from The Sopranos Season Two finale, "The Knight in White Satin," Tony puts his sister Janice on a Greyhound bus bound for the West Coast after she murders her fiance, Richie.  

In the 2015 Disney film "Tomorrowland," Greyhound is featured in several scenes, including travel to the 1964 New York World's Fair and a modern (2015) Greyhound ride from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to Houston, Texas.  Greyhound helped promote this film by sponsoring a sweepstakes for free rides, wrapping several buses with film imagery and advertisements, and placing promotional items inside terminals and buses.  Greyhound sponsored the film's Los Angeles red carpet premiere, too.

Greyhound was most recently seen in the 2022 Disney Plus film Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, in which a Greyhound bus is taken to Los Angeles.  

Greyhound has also been featured in songs countless times, from the song titled "Love on a Greyhound Bus," which appeared in the 1946 MGM film "No Leave, No Love," to mentions in songs by Simon and Garfunkel ("America"), Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Lodi"), Harry Chapin ("Greyhound"), The Allman Brothers Band ("Ramblin' Man), Billy Joel ("New York State of Mind"), and John Mellencamp ("Minutes to Memories").  

I've never seen the show or movies, but in Lee Child's novel "Jack Reacher," Jack Reacher is a regular Greyhound passenger, so he can maintain a low profile.

While it's true that Greyhound faces many challenges today, there are small glimmers of hope.  Greyhound has committed to investing and modernizing its fleet with newer and more comfortable buses.  Additionally, they are partnering with technology startups and exploring different ways to improve passenger experiences from "booking to boarding" through real-time location tracking, baggage tracking, mobile ticketing, and seamless connections to other modes of transportation.  Greyhound claims to have made efficiencies in the operation that lead to lower fuel costs, optimal routing, and more.   

Whatever the case, Greyhound has been about adapting for over 100 years.  It remains a vital option for many regardless of the challenges it faces.  By embracing the need to modernize and serve the needs of its passengers, Greyhound can ensure its legacy of connecting America for years to come.  Greyhound isn't as glamorous as air or train travel, not that those are very glamorous today either.  On the bus, the seats are basic, legroom is limited, and the rest stops can be... different.  

Yet these buses offer a unique window into American life.  People from all walks of life share very tight quarters for long periods of time under less-than-ideal circumstances, leading to a sense of community and willingness to learn about different people than those frequently exposed to at home.  Stories are traded, and experiences are shared.  A grizzled, tired old businessman on his way to an important meeting that can make or break his career might find himself next to a teenager fresh out of high school, ready to explore the world on their own with stars in their eyes.

On every Greyhound journey, a collection of stories plays out. It's kind of romantic in a wanderlust sort of way if you think about it. A young soldier nervously headed off to basic training, a student embarking on a cross-country adventure, a lower-income family visiting loved ones, or a down-on-their-luck drug addict seeking a "fresh start" in some far-off city. These individual lives weave together somehow to form the American story.

Greyhound buses may not be the glamorous mode of travel they once were, but they remain a symbol of a nation on the move and a testament to the American spirit that gives us the desire to connect, explore, and chase our dreams.