Sunday, August 19, 2012

Live Blog: Bolt Bus

Alright, we are live blogging the Bolt bus experience.

So far much better than Greyhound. Even though they are owned by Greyhound. Pleather seats. Wi-Fi. Outlets for devices. And the people don't seem too weird.

Not to be judgmental about the usual Greyhound crowd but they are a rag tag group. I've seen prostitutes and ex-cons. I've seen single mothers and runaways. I've seen certifiable crazies and drugged out college kids. I've been on buses with crying babies the entire ride. And of course I have seen normal people too on the buses. But Greyhound seems to push those people out.

To the credit of the crazies and burnouts and really beat-up looking people I have seen on Greyhound buses they have all been very nice.

None of them really seem happy though. Greyhound is an awful purgatory on the way to hell.

By contrast this Bolt bus is an extraordinary experience. Akin to taking a plane, the seats are comfy, the people are—ahem, mostly white—nice, and there is even chatter on the bus that's not about where to hide shivs in prison. So I'm quite comfortable right now.

This is what traveling on the road is like in my mind. A comfortable cabin, nice stretches of road and pleasant company.

So why the hell do Greyhound buses suck so much? (keeping in mind of course that Bolt buses are a wholly owned subsidiary of Greyhound). I bet overhead has something to do with it. Bolt bus picks up at bus stops and not at terminals. This saves significantly on the cost of space and maintenance. There is no ticket counter, just a Bolt bus official that directs people where to go. The routes are limited. Portland to Seattle to Vancouver. No stops in between. It means that you have to be at a major hub to take advantage of Bolt.

All the cash goes to other services. And that makes for a very nice ride for the customers. The question: can Greyhound provide comparable levels of service without reducing the number of stops that they take?

My answer, to be decided. It seems that Greyhound wants, at some level to improve their services, but what that means is really up for debate. The economy hasn't helped them form a future either.