Last bus I went on had seat belts and the driver said the bus company wasn't liable if you chose not to wear it.
There was one tiny bathroom, like a portaloo but not as roomy.
There was about 70 seats, a TV and DVD, and those funny antimacassars they put on the seats, velcro of course so in the middle of the night if you didn't like it you couldn't rip it off because everyone in the bus would hear it. Mine didn't smell too good so I moved. I have been on some buses so packed moving wasn't an option.
Also they had overhead lights and airconditioners like on a plane and little curtains on the windows secured top and bottom with stretchy spring wire. The seats recline too.
On longhaul bus runs I've been on they had a bed up the back behind a curtain. The first driver drove for the first 8 hours while the second driver slept then they'd swap for the next shift.
On those ones you sometimes get people who sleep in the aisles. It's against the rules and makes it hard to get passed to go to the toilet but the drivers usually turn a blind eye.
Hope this helps.
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited October 23, 2005).]
I've been on a couple of Greyhounds in the past few years, some in Canada, some in the US. Canadian buses tend to be cleaner (big surprise) and the stops are in better locations. American bus stops tend to be in the slums or on the outskirts of town. Think "surrounded by 4-lane highways and truck stops." They're also dingy, full of uncomfortable seats and dinky food machines and so on. There is no way to eat healthy, or even decent, travelling Greyhound unless you bring your own food.
In Canada everyone rides the bus, but in America there's a disproportionate number of poor people and black people. Your average white middle-class American thinks public transport is beneath him.
There are no seatbelts, at least on the ones I've been on. The bathrooms are in the back. They are closets, just like the ones on planes; I tend to avoid 'em. There's only one per bus. Probably 40 to 50 seats on a Greyhound. You can carry on small bags, but anything big gets stowed in luggage carriers underneath.
No TV on Greyhound. I think there is a radio hookup, but I always bring my own CD player so I don't know. There's no shade on the windows either, though I've seen that in Britain or New Zealand. From time to time the bus will stop to let people off, and sometimes they also refuel or change drivers or change buses. For all of those they make you get off the bus, which sucks (see location of bus stops....)
Hmm, can't think of much else. I'll ask my boyfriend, who's probably bussed it more than I.
I'll need to try to deemphasize the airplane ascepts, so as to draw attention away from the guilty-as-charged fact that I'm addicted to Lost, and the story is about throwing some complicated strangers together and put them in a strange fantastical setting.
My last greyhound trip was January of last year. Although I can easily recall that ride and all of the many others I've had in my life.
The toilet (only one) is in the rear and to the left and is the same size or smaller than toilets on airplanes. The seats are usually dark blue or grey and not designed for tall people. I couldn't guess how many, sorry.
There were no seatbelts.
Other tidbits: The overhead has a little light and air vent piece, just like on planes. If point A and point B are far enough apart, the bus will stop at McDonalds (this occured on a ride to Dayton, Ohio from Muskogee, Oklahoma and on my last ride somewhere between California and Texas) or will stop at Church's Chicken (another stop on that last ride, this time somewhere between Texas and Virginia). On the trip to Ohio, the stop was really early in the morning. The last trip this stop occured in the afternoon.
The seat in front of yours has a step attached to the bottom back, you can lower this metal step to use as an elevated footrest, or push it up so it's out of your way.
Rules of bus travel: Bring at least 1 book, you will have plenty of time to read. Bring a headset/walkman/mp3/cd player. Music is your friend when the people with the collicky baby get on. Bring snack food and drinks with you. If you don't, get something to eat at each stop. You can't be certain when the next time you'll have a chance is going to occur and if the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you will starve. Don't get stuck in a 36+ hour layover in Atlanta, Georgia in January. Even if your undercarriage luggage is in obvious military bags, it will be looted if not locked. Be open to meeting people. When you make travel buddies, they watch out for you so the bus doesn't leave you behind. They also have great jokes/stories. NEVER ARGUE with a bus driver. NEVER. You will be left on the side of the road. (I haven't had it happen to me, but I have seen it done)
I'm sure I've posted way to much already, so I'll stop for now.
My first and last trip on Greyhound, about three years ago, gave me these answers to your questions:
Are there seatbelts?
A rough guess as to how many seats?
they sit two on either side of the narrow aisle, maybe twenty rows back, but the back few rows are only half because that's where the toilet is so maybe 70? Then again, on the only trip I took they had people sitting in the aisles and on other people's laps crammed in there.
Where are the bathrooms in relation to the bus?
back...and this is a bus, there is only 1
How big are the bathrooms?
the bathroom (singular) is at least as small as the one on an airplane, maybe smaller and smellier. No, definitely smaller and smellier.
How many are they?
On a personal note, I sat next to a guy who spread his legs so wide that I had to huddle up in the corner. The seats were miserably uncomfortable and small -- they barely fit my butt...let's see, I've gone up and down in weight but at that time I'm pretty sure my butt was wearing size 14 jeans, which is still two sizes removed from women's plus sizes. They stop at McDonald's on ocassion if you'd like something to eat or you can get something out of vending machines at some of the bus stations. Other bus stations literally are the McDonald's parking lots (in small towns across the midwest, in particular). There is no food available on the bus. They smell bad from a combination of the bathroom and unwashed human bodies. Well, maybe not all of them but certainly the one i was on which was making its way from LA to New York (I wasn't going that whole way but some people were) and the trip took over two days and there's no place to shower. Not to mention I don't think some of those people showered before they got on.
I've ridden the bus several times in Canada (because that is where I live ).
Most of the time they are called motorcoaches, but not always (a motorcoach tends to be more comfortable). I've travelled with three different companies: Laidlaw, Greyhound, and Red Arrow.
Laidlaw (on Vancouver Island): nothing I would call a motorcoach and barely more than school bus. 70-80 seats (rows of 4, 2 on each side), no entertainment, no snacks, lots of pick ups and drop offs, one washroom.
Greyhound (Vancouver to Calgary): 12+ hours, several stops (I think 3 or 4 stops that were at least half an hour long), jam-packed -- tighter than sardines, 70-80 seats (same set-up as above), little reading lights above each seat (like on airplanes), one washroom. They showed two family friendly movies and then that was it (it was an overnight trip, so they probably stopped showing movies so that you could try to sleep.)
Greyhound (Calgary to Edmonton and back): About the same as above, but not quite as squished. Show 2 movies, as long as the VCR is working...
Red Arrow (Calgary to Edmonton and back): This is my favourite busline. They show at least one movie, sometimes two. Have a choice of three different runs (Express - no stops; Semi-Express - one stop; milk-run - plenty of stops at all the little towns along the way). Seats about 45-60 (3 seats per row, 2 on one side of the bus, 1 on the other). More leg room than on Greyhound. No need to bring a radio, they sell headphones for the movie (your own work fine as well) and you can also tune in radio stations. There is a fridge at the back of the bus with complimentary pop and cookies, as well as a coffee dispenser and a hot water tap and a selection of herbal teas. There was only one bathroom, but it was at least the same size as on an airplane. The seats themsleves were wider and more comfortable to sit in and they have laptop plugins to help accomodate business travelers. Travelling from Calgary to Edmonton, it is more convienient and more comfortable than flying. Travel time is about 3 hours for the Express, with convienient downtown pick up and drop off. Flying takes about an hour, but you have to get all the way out to the airport, allow time for checking in and going through security, and when you land you still have to get into town from the airport (all of which probably takes closer to 4 hours and contains far more hassels and no time for a movie! ).
I like travelling by bus, but I have heard it is much different in the States. When I tell my sister (who has lived most of her life in the US) that I'm taking the bus somewhere, she can hardly believe it.
Oh, this thread brings back memories. I used to ride Greyhound all together too much as an older teen. The info given so far sounds just like my experience; I'd only add that the seats started off feeling reasonably comfortable, but after three or four hours had attained the status of torture devices.
Your idea about bringing people of disparate backgrounds together on a Greyhound sounds fantastic, because it is utterly believable. I've travelled with people of all sorts. The only limitation is the current economic status of your passengers -- well-to-do people almost never travel on Greyhound. It's been the cheapest way to travel long-distance for quite some time, and so it carries everyone from enlisted military guys (usually young) to just-released ex-cons, to Amish (not sure how they justify riding it, but I've seen them), to every sort of minority, not to mention us lower-middle-class folk who barely had enough money for college and couldn't spare any extra for plane tickets.
Some movies with bus trips: A Walk in the Clouds (this was an older setting, but didn't seem to inconsistent.) Boys on the Side Witness (has the aformentioned Amish, though they might have been on a train). The thing called Love (I really like this movie for some reason.)
Upper middle class people I've known to ride the bus recently: A psychiatry resident who retains a schoolgirl romance with communism (think Flannery O'Connor's short story "Everything that Rises must converge"). The teenaged daughter of a civil engineer, and an engineering grad student who joined the Army reserve mostly out of patriotic leanings.
Maybe the particulars of this trip could be encouraged by a special sale the bus company had, attracting customers they otherwise might not. Or there was a series of plane crashes for no particular good reason the prior month. Or several close calls all at one airport, causing people headed there to consider the bus.
I'm just thinking that if this is a contemporary fantasy (which is sort of what it sounds like it might be), perhaps you could make just slightly future fantasy...
Higher oil prices create an increase in fuel which means higher airline ticket prices...Priceline and Expedia and many of those other discount airline sites go under and there is a consumer backlash...Motorcoaches become the way to travel for many people of all backgrounds. Although it takes longer to get to various places, the luxury, comfort and economy of bus travel makes it a viable choice for a broader segment of the population especially for domestic or North American travel...
Well, it's modern day. There is a SF&F encounter with a multidimensional being that accidently sweeps the bus on a short transdimensional excursion, and then tries to return them by looking into the minds of passengers. It makes a mistake there too...
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