The (Grey)hounds of hell now arriving in the UK
If you've ever travelled by Greyhound in the states, you'll recognise that Bill Bryson hit the nail on the head when he wrote in The Lost Continent:
"...most of the people on long-distance buses are one of the following: mentally defective, actively schizoid, armed and dangerous, in a drugged stupor, just released from prison or nuns. Occasionally you will also see a pair of Norwegian students. You can tell they are Norwegian students because they are so pink faced and healthy-looking and they wear little pale blue ankle socks with their sandals."
It's a documented fact that not only are ex-cons given a Greyhound ticket to reach their halfway house after leaving prison, but those still serving time are transferred between prisons on these public services. Throw in the good, toothless folk of America who carry their possessions in black plastic sacks and you have a journey that can be pant-shittingly scary.
Hopefully the new Greyhound service launching in the UK won't be quite so unnerving. The new routes will initially travel from Portsmouth and Southampton to London, with the promise of more to be added next year - including routes to Scotland. Fares cost from as little as £1.50 when booked well in advance through their new website, for a journey that takes less than two hours between the South coast and the capital. Read through the perks and it's not a bad deal at all - reclining seats, free wi-fi and power sockets are all standard.
Compared to the traditional Greyhound buses in the US, there's little similarity - the new service is more reminiscent of its US East coast spin-off the Bolt Bus, which offers similar facilities and pricing structures. Greyhound has better name recognition in the UK however, even if there's a nagging concern that you'll become a torso case for the Maryland sheriff.
So who is behind this attempted revolution in national coach travel? Why, it's your favourite train operator, FirstGroup. In fact the Scottish firm operate the whole Greyhound operation across the states - so now you know that when your train service sucks, it's because they're busy titting about with buses in Alabama.