To improve the air quality of our cities and fight climate change at home, we could use some help from the folks at Greyhound. Despite policies that allow for the transport of bicycles on their buses, Greyhound employees are not prepared to make it happen. Bike boxes are not stocked, employees are not trained, misunderstandings run rampant. As much as I’d like to rely on the company and leave my car at home when I travel across the state, a recent trip from North to South Texas and back again showed me the company is just not up to the job of moving cyclists reliably.
My open letter to Greyhound:
Increasingly I am living car-free. I don’t need the traffic headaches. The air doesn’t need the carbon or particulates. And driving is just plain expensive and unhealthy. And so I ride buses and trains and – nearly every day – my bicycle to get around the city. It’s not always easy, but I always feel better at the end of the day. My body gets a workout and me and my neighbors get to breathe just a little easier. So I was excited to discover when I booked my Greyhound ticket on the company’s website last month that bicycles may be stored under the bus, counting as one’s stowaway luggage.
However, when I arrived at the Ft. Worth station the morning of my recent trip I was informed by employee XXXX XXXXXX that my bike must be in a box. I’m confused and anxious. Can I break it down and store it in trash bags, I asked, thinking I have time to get to a corner store for bags (where would a get a box shaped to fit a bicycle, I wondered). No, he says. That won’t work. I step away from the counter and call customer service. I am told that, yes, I must have a box to store the bicycle in. Apparently, my trip is over. Neither XXXXX nor the woman from customer service explained one crucial detail: Greyhound sells bike boxes. I only learn this when I go back to try to refund my ticket. XXXXX says if I’m back 30 minutes before my bus (I still need to take the TRE to Dallas and back for work) I should have time to buy the box and be prepared to board. I’m ecstatic. My blood pressure returns to something resembling normal. I thank him for his help, thinking my troubles are over.
Then I arrive to purchase my box. The man at the other side of the Greyhound station, XXXXXX, says they don’t sell bike boxes. He has no idea what I’m talking about and expresses absolutely no regret that I am now about to miss my bus and have to cancel my trip. He shrugs, looks at me blankly, and makes no effort to fix my problem. I go back to XXXXXX (after waiting in line for another 10 minutes, now I’m really about to miss my bus) and he is shocked. “Who told you that?!” he asks. He gets who I take to be XXXXXX’s manager, XXXXX XXXXXX, to assist. She immediately pulls a bike box (the last one they have, she says) down and begins to ring me up. Oh, but wait. They can only accept cash for the $10 box. They can’t accept the card I used to pay for my ticket.
A few minutes later I am watching the bus to San Antonio pull away from the station. When I complain, she gets very agitated. But instead of trying to solve my problem she busies herself trying to figure out who is most culpable, her or the first man I spoke to. When I get her attention again she is pointing her finger at XXXXXX (in front several other customers): “It’s on him. He should have sold you the box when you first arrived,” she insists. I’ve begun to feel bad for the man, the only one who ultimately gave me good information about the availability of the box. To catch the next bus, it is he who ultimately gives me the $10 box after the other two refuse to try to find a solution. (“Cash only,” they say, still shrugging.)
The woman gets mad at XXXXXX for giving me the box and makes the two of us fill out a form explaining ourselves. Thanks to him, I make the next bus, arrive a couple hours later than I had planned, but now at least feel equipped to make the return trip. Lesson learned the hard way: I understand there are boxes for sale and that I should have cash ready. However, when I arrive at the San Antonio Greyhound station to return home I am told they are all out of bike boxes. I frantically call all area bike stores, but the only one who answers on a Sunday morning is almost 20 miles away. I have no chance of making my bus in 40 minutes. In the end, the friend who I came to visit car-free has to drive me five hours across the state back to Ft. Worth.
As you may guess by now, this whole ordeal was one of the most confusing, frustrating, and miserable experiences I’ve had in some time. I would suggest making the language very clear on your website as to the required box, its availability and price, and training your staff as to how to work with the biking community (and really just how to be decent, caring, problem-solving people). I am going to keep riding and traveling with my bike, but when I need to make a trip across state I’ll most likely be taking it with a competing bus service.
Now, does anyone know if Megabus accepts bikes into their underneath storage?