Tag Archives: Megabus

East Coast Tripping Days 17-18: Nestled within the folds

11 Jun

Monday was the first legit fuck off day I’ve had since I been on vacation. I basically spent the whole day doing laundry and hangin’ with the homies. We went back out to Brooklyn to play pickup ball, with my boys from Austin and Portland. We got some good running in and managed to avoid getting any cramps in that stuffy gymnasium. It was nice to not have anything terribly important to do because yesterday was a travel day. Not only would I miss the most efficient first half played by any team in NBA Finals history, but I had to ride the Dattco bus instead of the Megabus.

The Dattco bus? No idea who owns it or where it came from, but let’s just say it was not ideal:

“No wif-fi. No outlets. No stops. No problem. Dattco. As in Dat company you never heard of. Coming to a city near you.”

The thing about these buses is that if you forget to pack water, you are fucked. This is where the whole express bus works against poor planners like myself. No stops means exactly that, no stops. I of course forgot to pack water and had to wait until the trip was nearly over, when we made a scheduled stop in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The bus ride still was not too unpleasant though. There happened to be tons of Vermont cuties along for the ride. I managed to score a seat next to a guy who looked familiar, but it would take me a half hour of conversation to figure out why he did. Turns out I’d seen him in a documentary about his uncle, a bass player in this 70’s punk band called Death. He himself plays bass in a band called Rough Francis.

He was a pretty cool cat who had basically lived his whole life in Burlington (except for a brief stint in the Bay Area that interestingly intersected with my own time out there). He gave me the lay of the land, told me what spots to hit up, and what restaurants to avoid. He was good conversation. We talked about music, women, and traveling–even traded some “Unforgivable” quotes to our neighboring passengers’ dismay.

Vermont itself is just as breathtaking as I imagined. I’d often heard that Vermont is basically the Oregon of the east coast, and the corollary seems pretty dead on. The same quiet reverence I felt the first time I visited Oregon washed upon me last night as we silently crept north. Replace the Douglas Firs of Oregon with Maple trees and you have Vermont. The state is packed with mountain ranges, tall trees, and the ocean not too far away. The more my boy Julian told me about Burlington, the more I liked what I heard. The town is only an hour and a half from Montreal, Quebec (wish I’d have planned better–would have loved to take a side trip up to Montreal again) and Marijuana is decriminalized here in Vermont. So did I not break the law last night when I got settled? You bet I didn’t.

my couchsurfing hosts last night were these two lovely gals from Boston–both just recently of drinking age– and so much fun. They took me to a couple of bars to watch a Grateful Dead cover band (Dead Set every Tuesday night at the Nectar–a spot made popular by Phish’s early days), and another spot where there was a sweet little honky-tonk band. When they played Gram Parsons’ “A Song For You” I knew they were the real deal. Burlington reminds me a lot of Eugene, Oregon–tons of happy white people, good music, ubiquitous buds, and a super chill vibe. I’m digging it.
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There are a couple of open mics tonight I’m going to hit up. Decided I’m gonna try some stand up comedy after four years of inactivity. Later there is one at the pizza place where I will break out the old acoustic. It should be fun. Of course, to complete the Oregon/Vermont parallel, it has been raining all day, which believe it or not, bodes well for me. If the girls in Vermont treat me anywhere as good as the Oregonian gals did, your boy is in for a good night. Wish me luck.

Open Letter to Greyhound

20 Jul

Dear Greyhound staff,
I’m writing in order to obtain a refund for a purchase I made on May 29th, for a trip that was to take place on June 3rd, from Dallas to Tulsa, with a stop in Oklahoma City.

The bus leaving Dallas was supposed to leave at 6:40 pm and get me into Tulsa at 2:50 AM the next morning.

Things would change for the worst however when I arrived at the terminal to find that every bus scheduled to depart from that station was oversold, and that no back-up plan was in place to accommodate patrons who’d bought their tickets ahead of time.

There weren’t extra buses to put these people on and everyone on my bus to Tulsa was told that they’d have to wait until the next day to catch their bus.

I asked a staff member if there was anything else we could do and he suggested a late night bus out of Dallas that would take me to Amarillo for the night, and get me into Tulsa at 5:40 PM the next day.

I explained to him why this wouldn’t work for me and suggested to him that he change my ticket to the 6:35 AM bus that would take me to Tulsa via I-75. He agreed that this would be a better plan and changed my ticket.

After a mad scramble, the Dallas Greyhound management gave free food vouchers to patrons who were inconvenienced and told me that another bus was on its way to collect the remaining patrons who needed to get to Oklahoma City in less than an hour.

The supervisor told me that I could get on this bus and possibly still make my connection in Oklahoma City. I asked if I needed to change my ticket back to the original itinerary and she said it wasn’t necessary. For further clarification, I asked two more employees if I would need to have my ticket changed to correspond with the bus I was taking and they said no.

2 hours later, the bus finally arrived and I again showed my ticket to the bus driver, he said that things should be okay and that we should probably make our connection in Oklahoma City.

When we pulled into the bus station in Oklahoma City, I had found that not only had I missed my bus, but that no one from the Dallas station had called and alerted the OKC station about the bus delays.

At this point it was 1:30 AM and the next bus out of Oklahoma City wouldn’t leave until 11:00 AM. The employee at the counter asked me why I was even on this particular bus to Oklahoma City– and why I wasn’t on the bus going straight to Tulsa.

He then told me to talk to his supervisor in the morning and that his supervisor could straighten things out, since it appeared I was going to have to purchase another ticket to get me to Tulsa.

Because it was 1:30 in the morning and I had to be at work at noon, sleeping on the bus station linoleum didn’t appear to be a good idea. So I had to reach into my wallet and purchase a room for the night at the Quality Inn for $56.93.

The next morning I walked into the station and talked to the supervisor and he told me he’d do what he could, and possibly talk to the driver going to Tulsa.

At 11:00 a bus going to Tulsa arrived but because it was Jefferson Lines, I would have to pay for it myself. Otherwise I’d have to wait until 11:35 before the Greyhound bus going to Tulsa arrived (as it happened that particular bus was delayed by at least an hour). I did not want to wait another hour and a half so I reached into my wallet again and just bought the ticket.

There were many things during this experience that bothered me:

1)The fact that Greyhound can overbook buses without any sort of backup plan.
2) Not once during this day did anyone apologize for the inconveniences created.
3) No communication between the stations to inform each other that buses are running late.
4) That I had to book a hotel room as a result of worker dishonesty/incompetence. Sleeping in the lobby was not an option I was willing to explore. No one shot me straight about when my bus was arriving which would have allowed me to plan accordingly. If I’d have known I was going to miss my connecting bus I would’ve just spent the night in Dallas (FOR FREE).
5) I talked to 3 different Dallas employees about my ticket (time/location change) and they all said it wouldn’t be a problem. When I got to the OKC station, the manager looked puzzled. How is it that no one seems to be on the same page within the company?

This is not an isolated event only the latest. So with all these other options, why would I bother traveling through Greyhound ever again?

I’m a frequent traveler and I have spent 1,000’s of dollars with the company in the past 8 years. With all the options available to consumers these days what is stopping me from flying (Southwest airlines is a glowing example of professionalism and incredible customer service), renting a car, or taking the Mega bus? I’m tired of the apathy from Greyhound employees, and tired of feeling shit on as a customer.

When I purchase a ticket, I understand I am entering an agreement. I’m agreeing not to bring booze or smoke on the bus. I’m agreeing not to assault the bus driver or other passengers. I’m agreeing not to disrupt the harmony of the ride for anyone else.

When I can’t make my destination on time or even on the same day, then Greyhound isn’t keeping up their end of the bargain. This results in an uneven exchange of services for money and this is what makes me angry. No one likes to feel as if they have been swindled.

I’m paying to arrive at my destination on time or reasonably close to it. I’m not paying my hard earned cash to be inconvenienced and mistreated. If things can’t somehow be made right not only will I never ride Greyhound again, I will tell everyone I know about my negative experiences with the company.

Perhaps I will pay more to exercise these other traveling options but it will be worth it. Greyhound may be slightly less expensive to use for travel, but my time is just as valuable as my money (if not more). If I experience ridiculous delays in places like Springfield, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, there is no realistic way for me to get that time back.

I am requesting a refund for my ticket from Dallas to Tulsa that was purchased on June 3rd, 2012 (my receipt is enclosed within). I am also enclosing a copy of the receipt from that date for the hotel that I had to purchase because of these delays.

I appreciate your time and I thank you for what I expect will be a swift response.
Sincerely,
Robert McFail Jr.