Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Go Greyhound!

This July 4th holiday, I'm going to catch a ride with my brother to Baltimore to visit and spend the night. On the return, I'm going to take the Greyhound bus back to D.C. The good news is that the fare is only $14 non-refundable one-way. The not-so-good news is that you have to arrive an hour ahead of time to get your ticket (even though you have a confirmation of your reservation and paid ahead of time), you still need to get an actual ticket. You can pay an extra $5 to choose your own seat and get priority seating, but that has to be done at the terminal, not ahead of time, nor online. The other bad thing is that if the bus pulls up, and is full, you have to wait and take the next one. I hope that this won't happen. I've chosen the 4:45 p.m. bus, which should get into D.C. by 6:30. This will allow for about 2 hours til it gets dark, in order for me to bike home. I'll bring my headlight/rear light just in case.

The ride to D.C. should take about 2 hours, which is an hour longer than if you're driving. I'm going to bring my folding bike, the Tikit, and put it in the baggage bin, and then ride home from D.C.

My brother offered to take me to the Metro subway in New Carrollton, but that's 44 miles from his place, and with the price of gas and the time it would take him to get to and fro, it just seemed better for me to try Greyhound. I'll bring a book and some music to listen to. It's a relatively short ride, and hopefully the bus and driver won't have any problems. There have been some accidents involving Greyhound... hopefully nothing will happen on my ride! Stay tuned for a report.

*******July 7, 2008 - RESULTS OF ATTEMPT:

Well, it was a No-Go for Grehound, though I gave it a shot. My brother and his friend brought me to the Greyhound Terminal on Sunday, arriving an hour and a half before the departure time, to get my ticket. The terminal is not located in the best area - and both my brother and his friend commented ENDLESSLY about both the bad, seedy location, unsafe area, and also about the "unsavory" patrons in the terminal. Funny thing though, one of the people we happened to bump into in the terminal, turned out to be a pastor in my brother's church! Huh- interesting the KINDS of people who take Greyhound, eh? :)

Anyway, I got in line to get my ticket. The man working the counter must have given umpteen "speeches" to people before me who were attempting to get on the bus going to New York City, because he started to give me that same speech...about that the 4:45 bus was most likely going to be full, and that they would have to wait for the next bus at 6:15. But he hadn't heard me correctly when I told him I was going to D.C. "Oh - sorry about that," he said, "I haven't heard anything about the DC bus." So I got the ticket, and we had an hour to wait til the bus came. While we were waiting, a long line formed for people going on the NYC bus. In between that time, an announcement or two were made about buses that were soon arriving at the terminal. Then I saw a bus pulled in, with the destination of "D.C." on the front, but no announcement was made. The bus number didn't match the number on my ticket. I went outside to check with the bus driver, who was standing outside the bus, starting to take tickets from people. There was a line of about 7-10 people who formed out of the blue. I asked the bus driver about the bus, and he said yes, it's going to D.C., but that he only had ONE seat available! :( Since I wasn't in line, I was simply out of luck. :( Nice system, eh? :( I felt sorry for all the rest of the people going to DC (and NYC) who were going to be disappointed and have to wait perhaps long hours before being able to get on a bus..... Who knows how long they had waited already?? I heard one person say they had been there since before 1 p.m. :(

So, I told my brother what happened (he was inside at the sundries shop), and asked him to drive me to the Metro subway. He was pissed about the whole event, and that he had offered to take me to the subway before we had gone to the Greyhound terminal. He thought the whole ordeal was a waste of time. Granted, it did waste our time, and I felt bad that it had wasted my brother's & his friend's time... I gave my brother $20 for his gas and time. But I learned a lesson about Greyhound and how it operated. I learned I won't be taking Greyhound until they have a better system in place. Funny thing, however, is that the Bolt Bus I had taken to NYC in May, was OWNED by Greyhound. WHY can't they run the rest of Greyhound like they run Bolt Bus?? Seems like if it works so well for the Bolt Bus, it'd work good for the Greyhound buses.... Oh well, live and learn.

So I got dropped off at the Metro subway, and the ride back to Alexandria was uneventful. When I got off the subway and was getting my stuff in order on my bike, a lady came over, smiling and sort of laughing - and asked about my "cute" small Tikit bike. :) So we had a nice chat about bikes and about living car-free. She said she had owned a couple cars a while back, but it had gotten too expensive to own and maintain them, and how her cars would often get banged up in the parking lot. She's given up on cars, and just takes public transportation. She lives on Rt. 1 in Alexandria (a major bus line), and has no problem with it. It was nice to meet a kindred spirit who uses public transportation locally. :)

Hopefully my experience on Amtrak will be a better time, when I take it at the end of August, to Philadelphia to meet a friend to go biking for the day. Stay tuned...

Oh, by the way, while I was at my brother's, I mapped out for him and his friend, a way to bicycle commute to their jobs. His friend and I then bicycled his route (about 9.7 miles), which took about an hour. It had a few good up and downhills, which would be a nice work out. It had a spot or two of "hairy" traffic areas, but he could tinker with the route to make it better. The route currently is on quiet suburb streets most of the way. I encouraged him to try it out sometime. He is currently borrowing my brother's small car to make the commute, and is interested in getting a car of his own. He said he spends about $70 every two weeks in gas. It would be nice if he could try going car-free, at least until late Fall. I know winter bike commuting isn't for everyone, but you can do it when the weather is decent... I don't know if he'll give it a try, but he's got the route and the ball (or wheel, should I say) is in his court.....