I took advantage of a $188 r/t Washington Dulles – Los Angeles fare over the weekend on American Airlines, which meant I had to find my own way up to Philadelphia this morning after my overnight redeye flight from LAX. Flying? Too much to justify, even if going NRSA. Train? More expensive than flying. Megabus? $30, which is a lot for a bus that does not offer working wi-fi. So I decided to try Greyhound. Heh. Heh.
Greyhound has revamped its image in order to compete with fierce competitors like its own Bolt subsidiary and Megabus, so many of their routes now feature complimentary Wi-Fi, power ports, and extended legroom. My ticket was only $14, booked online about an hour before departure at Washington’s Union Station. Be sure to book your ticket online–the walk-up ticket is twice the price. The Greyhound website is not quite as intuitive as Megabus or Bolt, but it is functional.
Where Greyhound does lag behind is in ticket distribution. You either need to present a printed copy of your ticket that they e-mail to you upon completion of your purchase (no mobile boarding passes) or you can opt to have your (airline boarding pass style) tickets printed out at the bus depot. Since I booked my ticket just an hour before departure, I had them printed. They even came with a ticket jacket. How quaint!
Due to a power outage, all Amtrak trains north of Baltimore were stopped, so chaos had befallen Union Station. It made me feel even smarter for taking the bus. Or so I thought.
The first segment of the trip was to downtown Baltimore. I ended up sitting next to an ignoramus who had his headphones turned up high enough for everyone to hear. What a jerk…
I moved to the back of the bus in Baltimore and that’s where the fun really started. An oil tanker tipped over near the Tydings Bridge on I-95 just north of Baltimore, sending all traffic on a detour down country roads meant to handle only a trickle of cars each day. It was stop and go traffic for the next two hours, where we moved no more than six miles.
A deranged older woman happened to be sitting in front of me and kept trying to give the driver directions on how to avoid the traffic…from 18 rows back. “Gladys” was worried about missing her doctor’s appointment in Philadelphia and began pacing back and forth and eventually demanded that the driver let her off the bus.
He did not–instead he told her to shut up. (I won’t repeat his exact words…)
She sat down, telling anyone who would listen that the driver was taking the wrong roads and that he should have stayed on I-95. When it was pointed out to here that I-95 was closed, she indignantly stated, “Well, I would have taken a different route.”
Then she had to use the lavatory. She bumbled her way to the restroom, went in, closed the door, and suddenly we all heard a crash and a splash of water. I must admit, I burst out laughing, as did most around me.
The door creaked open and she held out her arm and yelled out, “I’m okay.”
All throughout this delay a wonderful thing happened–the internet was working! I haven’t had functional internet on a bus in at least two years (ahem, Megabus!). It went out occasionally for a 2-3 minute period, but the signal was strong and the speed sufficinetly fast for most of the trip–so it was a productive 4.5hr journey…
The seats were plusher than Megabus, but the legroom did not seem as good. I also prefer Megabus’s double-decker busses, but kudos to Greyhound for at least having working internet.
We finally got past the pile-up and back on I-95 toward Philadelphia. We arrived just under two hours late–thankfully in time for me to make my afternoon appointments.
I cannot blame Greyhound for the oil spill, but let’s just say flying is suddenly looking a lot more attractive.