The (Grey)hounds of hell now arriving in the UK

20 August 2009

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.

TOPICS:   Travel   UK News   Technology

19 comments

  • Dan
    How useful to be able to travel between London Victoria, Southampton, and Portsmouth! Errr.... and that's it.
  • Andrew R.
    Travelled Megabus once in my student days from Newcastle to London. NEVER AGAIN will I get on a coach. Unless it's my own tour bus and I am the God of Rock. So never.
  • Robin
    First have obviously decided that there own brand name isn't worth the paper its printed on, so lets use another one. Interesting that the main competition on the route between Portsmouth/Southampton and London is South West Trains - owned by rivals Stagecoach. So I'm not expecting to see Greyhounds running to Bristol any time soon.
  • Robin
    or any other First Great Western destination for that matter
  • Mr S.
    National Express don't seem to mind competing with themselves on the NorthEast-London routes. Though they run the trains incompetently enough to make punters consider coachh travel.
  • Tommy J.
    In my heady days as a student, I toured round the States after working over there for a while, and the buses aren't really that bad. I'll admit, getting up one morning and deciding to see what spending 17 hours on a bus between Chicago and Atlanta was like may have been one of my less brilliant ideas, but the buses themselves are fine, clean, cheap and reliable. What more do you need?
  • Paul S.
    Tommy, my assessment is based on a four hour journey from Lawrence to Wichita in March. Maybe yours was shiny because it was between major cities. Mine was a living hell encased in doom wrapped in nightmares.
  • Tiny S.
    @ Paul Smith "from Lawrence to Wichita in March" I thought Wichita was in Kansas
  • fern
    I h aven't "gone Greyhound" since my college days when i was forced against my will to take the bus the 4.5 hours home from college. I hated it, and yes, the people who ride buses are exactly as you said!
  • Andrew R.
    Tommy Jackson - did you used to work at Ethical Superstore? :D
  • Brian
    £1 to Southampton sounds like a good deal. There are some nice "working girls" in Southampton.
  • alex
    we have a story on greyhound's trip across the atlantic over at our naming/branding blog, on the button. have a look! http://onthebutton.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/greyhound-naming/
  • Steve B.
    @Brian: I'm no boffin, but wouldn't that make the total cost of your own particular brand of round-trip £13.50? (Including the cola-based drink on the way back).
  • Tommy J.
    Andrew Robinson - Now I'm scared. Yes I did... who are you then, and how do you know? Hmmm....
  • Andrew R.
    Tommy, Dan says Hi - I looked on your link and saw pics of his ugly mug, I'm a designer down there ;) I recognised your name as it's on one of the mac logins, and there are still about 850,000 business cards sitting on the desk :P
  • Tommy J.
    Ha ha... fair enough... thought I'd binned all the business cards... guess some got away.
  • Mewling P.
    So when I go see my mates in London, I can... a) Drive - about £25 in petrol b) Get the train - about £32 return c) Get a Greyhound for £2.50 Let me think..... lol
  • Brian
    @Steve Blag £2.50 return (incl booking fee), £5 for alcohol based beverages (i'll take my own sandwiches) then 1x £25 (pleasures of the flesh) = £32.50 and a very "happy ending"
  • Passengers B.
    [...] trains, cafes and coaches, wi-fi can potentially be a deal-breaker for some consumers when choosing where they go and who [...]

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