Sunday, October 11, 2009

Asleep on the Greyhound

Our airlines are good, but because there is little demand for intercity ground transportation, my expectations for taking the Greyhound were low. Now that I am in Santa Barbara without a car, I have to get to the Bay Area to visit Shannon and back in time on Monday for school. I have two options, Amtrak and Greyhound. Both cost between $35-$50, but Greyhound has a much more flexible schedule, allowing me to leave at 8:45 or 11:30PM and get into Santa Barbara at 4:30 and 9:30AM respectively. This lets me sleep on the bus and head straight to class if I take the redeye.

In South America, there are a whole host of bus companies to choose from, too. Not in the US, we have greyhound and that's it. Amtrak runs a couple of buses, but that's only in conjunction with their train travel. The buses in Peru and Argentina were great. They were inexpensive and more or less comfortable, usually with a nice foot rest and in Argentina a meal and snack. Well, the Greyhound is not like that. It was crowded and at best as nice as the worst of buses we took in Peru. It also cost 3 times more than most of the comparable buses we took in Argentina.

I feel like the comparison to South America is more than fair. In the absence of a decent public train system, the local economy has at least stepped in to provide buses. America has no train (well there is Amtrak but its slower and more expensive than the bus!), air flight is expensive, so you'd think that more people would use buses. Que Lastima!

The ride wasn't awful, though. The bus station in Oakland is beautiful with 70 year old art deco flourishes. The people who rode with me were pretty normal, and I actually managed to get a little sleep, too. In the end, I got back to Santa Barbara on time and two large cups of coffee later, connected with the Bus to campus from the Santa Barbara bus terminal.

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