Monday, October 23, 2006

No Seats? Greyhound Says "Free Ride"!

On the weekend my partner and I went to visit his parents in lovely Fergus Ontario. For our return trip, we boarded a Greyhound bus at the Guelph bus terminal. We were surprised to see how full the bus was for 9:20 on a Sunday night, but we didn't expect it to be totally full, which in fact, it was. We managed to get seats, but when we made the next stop at the University of Guelph, there was only one seat left, and several passengers waiting.

Here's the surprise: the bus driver advised the waiting passengers that they could either wait for the next bus (about an hour later), or ride standing, and the ride would be FREE! I was amazed by this, as I had always understood that in this situation, Greyhound would simply call for more buses to deal with the extra passengers. I'm not sure whether this is Greyhound policy, or if it is up to the discretion of the driver, but I was most pleased. I'm sure that (what I assume were) Guelph students didn't mind standing to save about $15. Somehow, I can't imagine Go Transit doing this.

This reminded me of the victory for the Bus Rider's Union in Los Angeles, which insisted that people were not sardines, and should not be packed into overcrowded buses. They demanded from the Metro Transit Authority that if there were no seats on the bus, they shouldn't have to pay the fare. This was especially salient because the reason buses were so overcrowded was that the MTA was not fully servicing minority and poor areas of L.A.

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