• Everything old is new again

    Bob Beard
    Air fares too high? Train fares too high? Gasoline too expensive? In fact, do you feel like you will never ever see any more of America than your own backyard again? Wait! Don’t despair. A wonderful, old-time form of affordable transportation is making a strong resurgence in the face of our precarious economy.

    It is intercity buses. Yes, that’s correct; buses. But these are not your grandfather’s Greyhounds. They are brand new sleek “road cruisers” with all the comforts of air travel (I know, that might not be saying a lot) but it is far less expensive, more convenient, you don’t have to strip before boarding and you get “curbside to curbside” service.

    These bus lines run on many routes throughout the country and the number of routes is growing exponentially. Some of the nicer lines offer you free bottled water and free wifi at each seat. These new coach lines do not use traditional bus stations but operate from curbside at designated points throughout a city. Some of lines are titled Megabus, Bolt, Red Coach, DC2NY. Most operate in the Midwest and Northeast serving dense urban centers that have rapid transit lines to act as feeder lines to their points of departure. Expansion to Texas, California and other western states is expected soon.

    This type of travel has increased 33% in the last year. According to a study done by DePaul University, for the third year in a row, “intercity bus service was the fastest growing mode of intercity transportation , outpacing air and rail transportation.”

    Additionally, you are being a “good citizen” when you use intercity bus instead of air or rail transportation. Quantifying the net savings by evaluating how passengers would have traveled had curbside bus service not been available, the report finds that intercity buses are reducing fuel consumption by about 11 million gallons per year (about 125,000 tons of carbon,) which is equivalent to removing nearly 24,000 vehicles from the road.

    Such buses “achieve an estimated 196 passenger-miles per gallon of fuel burned, making them about four times as fuel efficient as commercial airplanes and private automobiles, after adjusting the latter for the fact that many car trips involve multiple occupants,” according to the survey. When passengers ride these intercity buses, it’s equivalent to reducing about 2.41 gallons of fuel per person.

    Permit me to end on a personal note. Recently I drove round trip from Washington, D.C. to New York City. Just in road tolls alone, not including gasoline, it costs $45.00 each way. The next time I bought a round trip ticket on Megabus about one month in advance and paid $12 each way, $24.00 round trip and left the driving to them. It took 4½ hours. The slower Northeast Regional train costs about $350 round trip and takes 3½ hours and a flight from Washington Reagan to LaGuardia on the shuttle costs about $500 and takes technically one hour but you have to be at the airport 2 hours ahead so that’s 3 plus the cab ride round trip into and out of the city is 30 minutes each way.

    So do the math and get out of that backyard! And ”leave the driving to them!”

    Happy Trails! Blogger Bob

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