CEO Dave Leach (1 Nov 2007–)
Parent organization FirstGroup
|Customer service 00 1 214-849-8100|
Founder Eric Wickman
|Slogan Go Greyhound and Leave the Driving to Us!|
Service area United States, Canada, and Mexico
Service type Intercity coach service
Alliance Trailways, Jefferson Lines, Indian Trails, Peter Pan Bus Lines, and others
Routes 123 routes (includes Greyhound Express routes)
Headquarters Dallas, Texas, United States
Founded 1914, Hibbing, Minnesota, United States
Motto Go Greyhound and Leave the Driving to Us!
Greyhound new buses
Greyhound Lines, Inc., usually shortened to Greyhound, is an intercity bus common carrier serving over 3,800 destinations across North America. The company's first route began in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1914, and the company adopted the name The Greyhound Corporation in 1929. Since October 2007, Greyhound has been a subsidiary of Scottish transportation company FirstGroup, but continues to be based in Dallas, Texas, where it has been headquartered since 1987. Greyhound and sister companies in FirstGroup America are the largest motorcoach operators in the United States and Canada.
- Greyhound new buses
- Early years 19141930
- Expansion desegregation and diversification 19451983
- 1983 Greyhound drivers strike
- Spin off merger and first bankruptcy 19861990
- 1990 Greyhound drivers strike
- Early 1990s Bankruptcy and antitrust cases
- Trailways Laidlaw mergers and bankruptcy of 2001
- Laidlaw years 20022007
- FirstGroup ownership 2007present
- The New Greyhound
- Addressing overbooking
- Services launched since 2010
- Greyhound Express
- Greyhound Connect
- Greyhound Charter Services
- Greyhound Package Express
- Lucky Streak
- Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
- Stations and stops
- Notable incidents and accidents
- Stage productions
Early years (1914–1930)
Carl Eric Wickman was born in Sweden in 1887. In 1905 he moved to the United States where he was working in a mine as a drill operator in Alice, Minnesota, until he was laid off in 1914. In the same year, he became a Hupmobile salesman in Hibbing, Minnesota. He proved unable to sell the car. In 1914, using his remaining vehicle, a 7-passenger car, he began a bus service with Andy (Bus Andy) Anderson and C.A.A. (Arvid) Heed, by transporting iron ore miners from Hibbing to Alice (known for its saloons) at 15 cents a ride.
In 1915 Wickman joined forces with Ralph Bogan, who was running a similar service from Hibbing to Duluth, Minnesota. The name of the new organization was the Mesaba Transportation Company, and it made $8,000 in profit in its first year.
By the end of World War I in 1918, Wickman owned 18 buses and was making an annual profit of $40,000. In 1922, Wickman joined forces with Orville Caesar, the owner of the Superior White Bus Lines. Four years later, Wickman purchased two West Coast operations, the Pioneer Yelloway System (the operator of the nation's first transcontinental bus) and the Pickwick Lines, creating a national intercity bus company.
The Greyhound name had its origins in the inaugural run of a route from Superior, Wisconsin to Wausau, Wisconsin. While passing through a small town, Ed Stone, the route's operator, saw the reflection of his 1920s era bus in a store window. The reflection reminded him of a greyhound dog, and he adopted that name for that segment of the Blue Goose Lines. The Greyhound name became popular and later applied to the entire bus network. Stone later became General Sales Manager of Yellow Truck and Coach, a division of General Motors (GM), which built Greyhound buses. Wickman, as the president of the company, continued to expand it so that by 1927, his buses were making transcontinental trips from California to New York. In 1928, Greyhound had a gross annual income of $6 million.
In 1929, Greyhound acquired additional interests in Southland Transportation Company, the Gray Line, and part of the Colonial Motor Coach Company to form Eastern Greyhound Lines. Greyhound also acquired an interest in Northland Transportation Company, and renamed it Northland Greyhound Lines.
By 1930 more than 100 bus lines had been consolidated into what was called the "Motor Transit Company". Recognizing that the company needed a more memorable name, the partners of the Motor Transit Company decided to rename it after the "Greyhound" marketing phrase used by earlier bus lines.
Wickman's business suffered during the Great Depression, and by 1931 was over $1 million in debt.
As the 1930s progressed and the economy improved, the Greyhound Corporation began to prosper again. In 1934, intercity bus lines (of which Greyhound was the largest) carried approximately 400,000,000 passengers—nearly as many passengers as the Class I railroads. The film It Happened One Night (1934) centered on an heiress (Claudette Colbert) traveling by Greyhound bus with a reporter (Clark Gable). The movie is credited by the company for spurring bus travel nationwide. In 1935, national intercity bus ridership climbed 50% to 651,999,000 passengers, surpassing the volume of passengers carried by the Class I railroads for the first time. In 1935 Wickman was able to announce record profits of $8 million. In 1936, already the largest bus carrier in the United States, Greyhound began taking delivery of 306 new buses.
To accommodate the rapid growth in bus travel, Greyhound also built many new stations in the period between 1937 and 1945, most of them in a late Art Deco style known as Streamline Moderne. In 1937, Greyhound embarked on a program of unifying its brand identity by acquiring both buses and terminals in the Streamline style. By the outbreak of World War II, the company had 4,750 stations and nearly 10,000 employees.
Expansion, desegregation, and diversification (1945–1983)
Wickman retired as president of the Greyhound Corporation in 1946, being replaced by his long-time partner Orville S. Caesar. Wickman died at the age of 66 in 1954.
After World War II, and the building of the Interstate Highway System beginning in 1956, automobile ownership and travel became a preferred mode of travel in the United States. This, combined with the increasing affordability of air travel, spelled trouble for Greyhound and other intercity bus carriers.
In October 1953, Greyhound announced the acquisition of the Tennessee Coach Company's entire operation, and the negotiations for the Blue Ridge Lines, and its affiliate White Star Lines, that operated between Cleveland and the Mid Atlantic Seaboard.
In 1955, the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled in the case of Keys v. Carolina Coach Co. that U.S. interstate bus operations, such as Greyhound's, could not be segregated by race. In 1960, in the case of Boynton v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court found that an African American had been wrongly convicted of trespassing in a "whites only" terminal area. In May 1961, civil rights activists organized interracial Freedom Rides as proof of the desegregation rulings. On May 14, a mob attacked pair of buses (a Greyhound and a Trailways) traveling from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans, Louisiana, and slashed the Greyhound bus's tires. Several miles outside of Anniston, Alabama, the mob forced the Greyhound bus to stop, broke its windows, and firebombed it. The mob held the bus' doors shut, intending to burn the riders to death. Sources disagree, but either an exploding fuel tank or an undercover state investigator brandishing a revolver caused the mob to retreat. When the riders escaped the bus, the mob beat them, while warning shots fired into the air by highway patrolmen prevented them from being lynched. Title II and Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 broadened protections beyond federally regulated carriers such as Greyhound, to include non-discrimination in hotels, restaurants, and other public accommodations, as well as state and local government buildings.
Later in the 1960s, Greyhound leadership saw a trend of declining ridership and began significant changes, including using the profitable bus operations to invest in other industries. By the 1970s, Greyhound had moved its headquarters to Phoenix, Arizona and was a large and diversified company, with holdings in everything from the Armour meat-packing company (which in turn owned the popular Dial deodorant soap brand), acquired in 1970; Traveller's Express money orders, MCI bus manufacturing company, and even airliner leasing. Indeed, Greyhound had entered a time of great change, even beginning to hire African American and female drivers in the late seventies.
In 1972, Greyhound introduced the special unlimited mileage "Ameripass." The pass was initially marketed as offering "99 days for $99" (equal to $566.83 today) or, in other words, transportation to anywhere at any time, for a dollar a day. For decades it was a popular choice for tourists on a budget who wanted to wander across the cities and towns of America. Over time Greyhound raised the price of the pass, shortened its validity period and rebranded it as the Discovery Pass, before finally discontinuing it in 2012.
Greyhound acquired Premier Cruise Line in 1984. Between 1985 and 1993, Premier operated as the "Official Cruise Line of Walt Disney World" with onboard Disney characters.
1983 Greyhound drivers' strike
In 1983, Greyhound operated a fleet of 3,800 buses and carried about 60 percent of the United States' bus-travel market. Starting November 2, 1983, Greyhound suffered a major and bitter drivers' strike with one fatality in Zanesville, Ohio, when a company bus ran over a worker at a picket line. A new contract was ratified December 19, and drivers returned to work the next day.
Spin-off, merger, and first bankruptcy (1986–1990)
By the time contract negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) were due again at the end of 1986, the bus line was in the process of being sold to Dallas-based investors. By early 1987, Greyhound Lines had returned to being a stand-alone bus transportation company. Under CEO Fred Currey, a former executive of rival Continental Trailways, Greyhound's corporate headquarters relocated to Dallas, Texas.
In February 1987, Greyhound Lines' new ownership and the ATU agreed on a new, 3-year contract. In June 1987, Greyhound Lines acquired Trailways, Inc. (formerly Continental Trailways), the largest member of the rival National Trailways Bus System, effectively consolidating into a national bus service. Greyhound was required by the ICC, in their action approving the merger, to maintain coordinated schedules with other scheduled service operators in the U.S.
Between 1987 and 1990, Greyhound Lines' former parent continued to be called Greyhound Corp., confusing passengers and investors alike. Greyhound Corp. retained both Premier Cruise Lines, and ten Greyhound-brand non-bus subsidiaries, such as Greyhound Leisure Services, Inc. (an operator of airport and cruise ship duty-free shops), and Greyhound Exhibits. In March 1990, the former conglomerate parent changed its name to Greyhound Dial. Because Greyhound Dial's switchboard continued to get questions from misdirected bus passengers, it ultimately changed its name to Dial Corporation in March 1991, to eliminate any association with bus travel.
1990 Greyhound drivers' strike
In early 1990, the drivers' contract from 1987 expired at the end of its three-year term. In March, the ATU began its strike against Greyhound. The 1990 drivers' strike was similar in its bitterness to the strike of 1983, with violence against both strikers and their replacement workers. One striker in California was killed by a Greyhound bus driven by a strikebreaker, and a shot was fired at a Greyhound bus. During the strike by its 6,300 drivers, Greyhound idled much of its fleet of 3,949 buses and cancelled 80% of its routes. At the same time, Greyhound was having to contend with the rise of low-cost airlines like Southwest Airlines, which further reduced the market for long-distance inter-city bus transportation. Without the financial strength provided in the past by a parent company, the strike's lower revenues and higher costs for security and labor-law penalties caused Greyhound to file for bankruptcy in June 1990. The strike would not be settled for 38 months under terms favorable to Greyhound. While the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had awarded damages for unfair labor practices to the strikers, this liability was discharged during bankruptcy reorganization.
Early 1990s: Bankruptcy and antitrust cases
At the end of 1990, the company had $488 million in assets and $654 million in liabilities. During bankruptcy, the company ultimately had to address claims for $142 million in back-pay for its striking drivers, and $384 million of pre-bankruptcy debts owed mostly to the investor group led by Fred G. Currey.
According to the company, upon emergence from bankruptcy in August 1991, Greyhound had shrunk its overall workforce to 7,900 employees (from 12,000 pre-bankruptcy), and trimmed its fleet to 2,750 buses and 3,600 drivers.
In August 1992, Greyhound canceled its bus terminal license (BTL) agreements with other carriers at 200 terminals, and imposed the requirement that Greyhound be the sole-seller of the tenant's bus tickets within a 25-mile radius of such a Greyhound terminal. In 1995, The United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division brought suit to stop this practice, alleging that it was an illegal restraint of trade, bad for consumers, and reduced competition. In February 1996, the United States won its case, and Greyhound agreed to permit its tenants to sell tickets nearby and permit its tenants to honor interline tickets with competitors.
Greyhound's total revenues in 1994 were $616 million.
Trailways-Laidlaw mergers and bankruptcy of 2001
In the late 1990s, Greyhound Lines acquired two more members of the National Trailways Bus System. The company purchased Carolina Trailways in 1997, followed by the intercity operations of Southeastern Trailways in 1998. Following the acquisitions, most of the remaining members of the Trailways System began interlining cooperatively with Greyhound, discontinued their scheduled route services, diversified into charters and tours, or went out of business altogether.
On September 3, 1997, Burlington, Ontario-based transportation conglomerate Laidlaw Inc. announced it would buy Greyhound Canada Transportation ULC (Greyhound's Canadian operations) for US$72 million.
In October 1998, Laidlaw announced it would acquire the U.S. operations of Greyhound Lines, Inc., including Carolina Trailways and other Greyhound affiliates, for about $470 million. When the acquisition was completed in March 1999, all of Greyhound and much of Trailways had become wholly owned subsidiaries of Laidlaw.
After incurring heavy losses through its investments in Greyhound Lines and other parts of its diversified business, Laidlaw Inc. filed for protection under both U.S. and Canadian bankruptcy laws in June 2001.
Laidlaw years (2002–2007)
Naperville, Illinois-based Laidlaw International, Inc. listed its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange on February 10, 2003 and emerged from re-organization on June 23, 2003 as the successor to Laidlaw Inc.
After this bankruptcy filing, Greyhound dropped low-demand rural stops and started concentrating on dense, inter-metropolitan routes. It cut nearly 37 percent of its network. In some rural areas local operators took over the old stops (often with government subsidies) particularly in the Plains states, parts of the upper Midwest (such as Wisconsin), and the Pacific Northwest.
Starting in 1997, Greyhound had faced significant competition in the northeast from Chinatown bus lines. By 2003, more than 250 buses, operated by competitors like Fung Wah and Lucky Star Bus were competing fiercely from curbsides in the Chinatowns of New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. When operating on inter-city routes, the Chinatown buses offered prices about 50% less than Greyhound's. Between 1997 and 2007, Chinatown buses took 60% of Greyhound's market share in the northeast United States.
FirstGroup ownership (2007–present)
On February 7, 2007, Scottish transport group FirstGroup purchased Laidlaw International for $3.6 billion. The deal closed on September 30, 2007 and the acquisition was completed on October 1, 2007 Although FirstGroup's interest was primarily the school and transit bus operations of Laidlaw, FirstGroup decided to retain the Greyhound operations and in 2009 exported the brand back to the United Kingdom as Greyhound UK.
Today, Greyhound's 1,229 buses serve over 3,800 destinations in North America, traveling 5.5 billion miles (8.8 billion km) on North America's roads.
The "New Greyhound"
Almost immediately after acquiring the carrier, FirstGroup sought to improve Greyhound's image and create what it called the "New Greyhound", by refurbishing many terminals, expanding the fleet with new buses, refurbishing old buses, and retraining customer service staff. Greyhound also started a new advertising campaign with Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners aimed at attracting 18- to 24-year-olds and Hispanics back to "The New Greyhound".
The "New Greyhound" also saw the introduction of a refreshed logo and a new navy blue and dark gray livery for buses, which was rolled out to the nationwide fleet over several years. As the older buses were repainted they were also refurbished, receiving wireless Internet access, power outlets, and new leather seating with increased legroom.
During its ownership by Laidlaw, Greyhound had come under criticism for its ticket sale practices, specifically that although tickets had departure dates and times printed on them, Greyhound did not always stop sales after all the seats were purchased for each departure. In periods of high demand Greyhound added additional "sections" (buses), but the threshold required to trigger an additional section varied, often leaving passengers behind to wait for the next bus departure.
Shortly after the sale to FirstGroup closed, Greyhound 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 the fee would have to be paid at the terminal's ticking counter, even if the ticket was bought in advance online.
The problem was further addressed in 2014 when Greyhound rolled out a new yield management computer system. With the new system, Greyhound is now able to more closely manage the number of tickets sold for each departure and dynamically adjust pricing based on sales. Although the amount of overbooked buses has been sharply reduced with this new system, Greyhound still does not explicitly guarantee a seat to everyone with a ticket (except on Greyhound Express routes).
Services launched since 2010
The next major change made by FirstGroup was the launch of a brand of premium bus routes called "Greyhound Express" in 2010. This came at the same time that competitor Megabus launched its third and fourth US hubs at Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and began to emphasize express services. Greyhound's express routes make fewer stops between major cities (compared to regular Greyhound routes), use only newer model or refurbished buses, have guaranteed seating, and tickets start at $1. Expansions in Greyhound's network and upgrades in its services in the early 2010s were at least partly a competitive response to Megabus. In 2014, Greyhound CEO David S. Leach claimed a profit of $73 million on revenues of $990.6 million, and attributed the company's success to mix of changing urban populations, less attractive driving options, and competition that was benefiting all carriers.
In July 2015, the company announced that it would open terminals in Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and begin services between the two cities with onward schedules to existing terminals in Texas. In so doing, Greyhound claimed to be the first American bus company to operate an intra-Mexican route. In September 2015, Greyhound announced expanded service in Missouri and Kansas shortly after Megabus announced that it would be ending service to several cities and college campuses.
Greyhound operates 123 routes serving over 2,700 destinations across the United States. Greyhound's scheduled services compete with the private automobile, low-cost airlines, Amtrak, and other intercity coach companies.
Greyhound Express is a low-cost express city-to-city service that makes either no stops or fewer stops compared to a traditional route. Fares start at $1 and seating is guaranteed since buses are not overbooked. Greyhound Express was designed to directly compete with low-cost carriers like Megabus and the Chinatown bus lines.
The service began on September 28, 2010 with several routes radiating from New York to major cities in the Northeastern United States and rapidly expanded to serve destinations in the Midwestern, Southern and Southwestern United States. Currently the Greyhound Express network has expanded to serve 930 city pairs in nearly 120 markets, with further expansion planned.
Greyhound Express routes are assigned new or refurbished buses that are equipped with Wi-Fi, power outlets, leather seats, and extra legroom. In many stations Greyhound Express customers can take advantage of dedicated waiting areas, separate from passengers traveling on other Greyhound services or other carriers. Some stations also board passengers onto Greyhound Express buses using numbers printed on tickets. This number is assigned in the order in which the ticket was purchased, which means that passengers who bought their tickets earlier get to board the bus and choose their seats earlier.
Greyhound Connect is a connector service that operates shorter routes to take passengers from stops in smaller, rural cities to stations in larger, urban cities. Buses are either from Greyhound's existing fleet or smaller, mid-sized buses (that are not equipped with a lavatory). Currently the Greyhound Connect service is offered in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, and Utah. Some routes are operated using funds from the "Federal Formula Grant Program for Rural Areas" from the Federal Transit Administration.
Greyhound Charter Services
Greyhound Charter Services arranges charter buses for customers using Greyhound's fleet of motorcoaches. Unlike many smaller charter operators, Greyhound is able to operate nationwide and offer one-way services, due to its network of routes. In addition to providing transportation to individual groups, schools, and event operators, Greyhound Charter Services is also approved by the military and the government as a charter bus vendor.
Greyhound Package Express
In addition to carrying passengers and their luggage, Greyhound buses also carry packages. Through Greyhound Package Express customers can book expedited cargo shipping door-to-door or station-to-station. The company says that shipping by bus offers a cost-effective alternative to other ground or air carriers for same-day delivery.
Lucky Streak is Greyhound's brand for routes between cities with casinos and other nearby cities. All fares are sold as open-ended round-trips, with passengers allowed to return to their origin at any time. On the Atlantic City routes, casinos offer special bonuses (gambling credit, room/dining discounts) to Lucky Streak passengers.
There are currently three Lucky Streak routes:
QuickLink is Greyhound's brand of commuter bus service that runs frequently during the peak weekday commuting hours. In addition to one-way and round-trip tickets QuickLink offers monthly and 10-trip passes. Passes and tickets on QuickLink are flexible and passengers can board any bus with available seating. Currently the only QuickLink route is between Mt. Laurel, New Jersey and New York City. Routes were formerly operated from Sacramento, California to the San Francisco Bay Area and Macon, Georgia to Atlanta.
BoltBus is Greyhound's brand of non-stop and limited-stop, premium level bus routes. Fares start as low as $1, with the lowest fares depending on how far in advance a trip is booked and demand for the trip, with fares increasing for trips booked closer to departure. BoltBus uses newer model coaches that are equipped with Wi-Fi, power outlets, and leather seats with extra legroom.
The first buses started running between Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. on March 27, 2008. In the Northeastern US BoltBus is operated in partnership with Peter Pan Bus Lines.
BoltBus expanded to the West Coast in May 2012 with a route in the Pacific Northwest (between Vancouver, BC, Seattle, and Portland). Service was expanded again in October 2013 with a route between the two largest metropolitan areas in California, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area (San Jose & Oakland). A stop in the city of San Francisco was added in December 2013 along with a new route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. West Coast routes are owned and operated directly by Greyhound without a regional partner.
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
Greyhound is one of the largest operators of Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach service even though the two companies are competitors in some markets. Amtrak issues rail passengers a ticket for a regularly scheduled Greyhound route that connects with their train, often with buses making a stop at the train station. These Thruway Motorcoach routes allow Amtrak to serve passengers in areas without rail service and offer passengers in areas with rail service a wider selection of destinations.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, government scrutiny of train and airplane passengers substantially increased, but bus passengers are largely free of it. Baggage is seldom inspected, and cash customers do not require identification. Greyhound says that security wands have been deployed on buses, but they do not appear to be routinely used.
In February 2013, in partnership with DriveCam, Greyhound deployed video cameras across its entire fleet to increase safety and driver compliance by combining data and video analytics with real-time driver feedback and coaching.
At some major Greyhound stations, passengers are subject to open-bag checks, ticket checks, and pat-downs with metal detectors.
As of 2014, Greyhound operates 1,272 motorcoaches produced mainly by Motor Coach Industries and Prevost.
In an effort to improve its image, between 2007 and 2014, the company aggressively purchased new coaches and refurbished existing ones. As of 2016, the majority of Greyhound's fleet has the navy blue and grey "neoclassic" livery on the exterior, wireless internet access, leather seating, and 120-volt power outlets at most seats. Greyhound's coaches have one fewer row of seats than the industry standard, giving passengers additional legroom. All buses purchased since 2009 have three-point seat belts installed.
The majority of the Greyhound fleet consists of the following models:
Stations and stops
(This list covers stations within or adjacent to larger transportation centers.)
Greyhound serves over 2,700 destinations across America. There are 230 Greyhound operated stations in most major cities, where passengers can catch a bus and buy tickets. All stations have Greyhound branding and are staffed by company representatives. Some stations stand alone, while others are a part of larger transportation centers with a Greyhound ticket counter and waiting area.
In small to mid-size cities Greyhound buses stop at either locations operated by an agent (like a convenience store or another business) or at a curbside stop. At most agent operated locations, the staff can also sell tickets.
Greyhound buses also stop at stations belonging to partner bus companies. At most of these locations, representatives are able to sell tickets for Greyhound routes.
Notable incidents and accidents
Below is a list of major incidents and accidents on Greyhound buses and buses of subsidiaries in the United States.