New River Free Press International


Greyhound's Gone?

Let's Revive Romance

Of the Road and Save

The Discontinued Stops!


By Michael Chacko Daniels

  • "Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us."

  • Remember that slogan? I not only do, I have a fondness for it. In an auto-fixated modern culture, the call of the grey Hound has just the right note to ease the anxieties of drivers . . .

  • Not surprisingly, the grey running dog is one of the most-recognized brands in the world. But not anyone can count on this running dog. Not anyone in 150 cities in the southwest, 64 in California alone, where the running dog runs no more.

"Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us!"

Remember that slogan?

I not only do, I have a fondness for it. I have been going Greyhound since traveling from Chicago, Ill, to Williamsburg, VA, in 1968 to attend a seminar on the American experience.

And, for me, going Greyhound was definitely an important part of my American experience.

On that trip, the grey running dog won a special place in my heart. No travel experience could beat the idea  of leaving the driving to its safe, smooth paws.

So, almost a decade later, after closing down the New River Free Press of Grand Rapids, MI, a community newspaper that I had edited for over three years, I traveled from South Haven, MI, via Chicago, Ill, to San Francisco, CA, in the early Spring, when snow still covered the Midwestern terrain, with my trusted IBM Selectric in the belly of the grey Hound because I wouldn't trust my faithful typewriter on a moving van or a plane.

I left the driving to the grey Hound.

In the early 1980s, I traveled over 300 times between San Francisco and Fresno, CA.

Again, I left the driving to the grey Hound. Not a single accident in all those trips.

In an auto-fixated modern culture, the call of the grey Hound has just the right note to ease the anxieties of anyone tormented by high gas prices, toll charges, parking fees, traffic tickets, reckless drivers, traffic gridlock, accidents, nodding off at the wheel, road rage, random acts of road violence . . .

All eased for an average ticket price of $43.

"Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us!" is a company slogan so effective that it has been responsive to the anxieties of travelers over successive decades.

Behind the catchy slogan, is a fact that defies contrarians: According to the U. S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the intercity bus, is the safest mode of transportation over cars, trucks, trains, planes, and other commercial vehicles. [Source: Greyhound Company web site:]

The call of the grey Hound has been so effective that this largest provider of intercity bus transportation operated nearly 8 billion passenger miles last year, and carried nearly 22 million people.

Just one Greyhound bus takes an average of 17 cars off the road, and achieves 162 passenger miles per gallon of fuel.

And in the process, keeps money in the pockets of 22 million people annually; reduces smog and traffic overload on the nation's highways; and eases the pressure on local and global petroleum supplies, and, consequently, helps the country's precarious balance of payments.

Part of the pleasure of going with these grey highway dogs for me has been the romance of the road, and of this vast and varied country, that is evoked every time the names of the towns and cities of America, distant or near, on the coast or across the heartland, are called out over the Hound's in-station or on-bus sound system.

Founded in 1914, this American icon of safe driving, serving more than 2,200 destinations with over 16,000 daily departures across North America, has been the most ardent practitioner of calling out the names of American cities, towns, and villages, albeit in grand, grey Hound style.

Today, with about 16,000 daily departures, somewhere in America your favorite place, one that you are from, or one you want to go to at some time in your life, is being called, in that melody so familiar to travelers on the Hound, several times a day.

Not surprisingly, the grey running dog is one of the most-recognized brands in the world.

But not anyone can count on this running dog.

Not anyone in 150 cities in the southwest, 64 in California alone, where the running dog runs no more.

The North Coast Journal quoted a Greyhound Company spokesperson as saying March 10, 2005 that the changes, the third in a series that eliminated stops since last August, were necessary because the previous route structure was not an efficient, effective use of resources.

In August of 2004, the company set out to cut 14 million of the 267 million miles the grey Hound runs each year in these United States.

What do most customers want? Faster trips with fewer stops, goes the claim.

BusRide magazine, April 15, 2005, quoted Greyhound Spokeswoman Lynn Brown as saying of the discontinued stops: "Three-fourths of them had no outbound [ticket] sales in the last year." She said some of the eliminated California stops are not actually cities but locations such as the side of the road, road junctions, and the like, reported the magazine.

A perusal of the grey Hound's web site reveals that it has been working since 2004 to transform its network to become a smaller, simpler network of routes that will better serve customers with safe, affordable and enjoyable transportation.

To better understand the direction this old dog is running, here is some useful information from the company's website: 32% of Greyhound passengers earn more than $35,000 a year; almost half have used an airline in the last year; and 30% have a college degree and are better educated than the U.S. population as a whole.

"What about the rest of the passengers?" my inquisitive friend, Jim, would like to know.

The following detail in an article by Joseph B. Frazier of the Associated Press, August 1, 2004 (printed in The Billings Gazette), clarifies what some of the residents in smaller communities will be losing:

"The vast majority of the cuts are to communities that have no commercial rail or air service, causing potential problems for people wanting to get to places that do.

 "Greyhound says it has to streamline operations to stay in business. But cutting 267 communities--from busy towns like Steamboat Springs, Colo., to more obscure places such as Big Timber, Mont.--weakens a web that has held the small towns of America together for decades."

What I see weakening is a web of relations--of people and the PEOPLE they want to visit ("Most Greyhound passengers travel to visit family and friends," says the company's web site.)  as well as of people and the PLACES they want to visit.

Jim says, "It is a sad day for these people and for America, when this web is weakened, as it will be when your favorite places will no longer be part of the grey Hound's daily song and its daily run."

So, Jim, here are some of the cities that were scheduled to be cut from the running dog's run (Maybe, you, or others out there, can call out their names as a first step toward finding a better solution than faster trips with fewer stops or each to his/her solitary car.):

Colorado Cities: Berthoud Pass, Brush, Burlington, Craig, Dinosaur, Fraser, Fort Morgan, Granby, Hayden, Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, Sterling, Winter Park.

Minnesota  Cities: Anoka, Atwater, Bagley, Bemidji, Big Lake, Bloomington, Brainerd, Canyon, Cass Lake, Clara City, Cloquet, Cottonwood, Crockston, Dassel, Detroit Lakes, Erskine, Eveleth, Forest Lake, Fosston, Four Corners, Frazee, Granite Falls, Hackensack, Hamel, Hinckley, Hutchinson, Independence, Le Seuer, Litchfield, Little Falls, Luverne, Madelia, Mankato, Marshall, Melrose, Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Moose Lake, Mountain Lake, Nisswa, North Branch, Perham, Pine City, Pine River, Pipestone, Rochester, Ruthton, Sandstone, Sauk Center, Shakopee, St. James, St. Louis Park, St. Peter, Twig, Wadena, Walker, Willmar, Windom, Winona, Worthington.

Montana Cities: Big Timber, Deer Lodge, Dillon, Drummond, Forsythe, Glendive, Laurel, Lima, Miles City, Three Forks, Warm Springs, Whitehall, Wibaux. Nebraska Cities: Cozad, Grand Island, Kearney, Kimball, Lexington, North Platte, Ogallala, Sidney, York. Oregon Cities: Albany, Arlington, Ashland, Bandon, Bend, Biggs, Boardman, Brightwood, Brookings, Canyonville, Chemult, Coos Bay, Cottage Grove, Florence, Gold Beach, Government Camp, Hermiston, Klamath Falls, La Pine, Lincoln City, Madras, McMinnville, Newberg, Newport, North bend, Port Orford, Redmond, Reedsport, Rhododendron, Sandy, Sheridan, Troutdale, Waldport, Warm Springs, Wemme, Zigzag.

What do you think, Jim? Can you, or anyone out there, come up with a song?

About the author: Michael Chacko Daniels, Californian/writer/editor/community worker/former clown, grew up in India. He is the author of two books published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata: Split in Two (1971, Second Revised Edition 2004) and Anything Out of Place Is Dirt (1972, Second Revised Edition 2005). Read all about his Indian and American journey at:
Copyright 2005 Michael Chacko Daniels
All rights reserved

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Posted on Friday, May 6, 2005 at 02:16PM by Registered CommenterMichael Chacko Daniels | CommentsPost a Comment