A Greyhound road trip across the country has long been a hallmark of the American experience, a “leave the driving to us” way for those who couldn’t afford airfare or a car to come home from college, start new jobs, get to the coast, leave problematic situations behind.
I took long Greyhound trips dozens of times, first traveling from Connecticut to Montreal and then from Montreal to Indiana. It was a great experience that taught me to appreciate this country more than I thought was possible. Everything was modest yet clean, convenient, and allowed me to preserve my dignity even in poverty.
But will Greyhounds buses become more like the buses I remember from back in Ukraine? A NYTimes article reports on the current state of Greyhound bus lines that now transport enormous numbers of migrants:
Refuse had long before overfilled the available trash bins, and a rank odor wafted out from the restrooms. Mothers, fathers and children huddled together on scraps of cardboard, atop tattered blankets and splayed jackets. Feverish babies with runny noses fussed in their mothers’ arms.
People who go on these buses are folks of modest means. They don’t have cars, can’t afford gas for a long trip, and don’t have the money to fly. Greyhound buslines are their way to travel and still have some self-respect. It’s easy to despise them and feel like they shouldn’t mind the destruction of their spaces to benefit migrants.
The article is paywalled but if you can read it, there’s a great explanation of how capital purposefully squeezes out the traditional users of the lines to substitute then with the new ones. The only problem is that once you reduce the bus stations to this 3rd-world state, there’s no going back. In order to survive, Greyhound will push for an endless stream of displaced people who won’t mind the stench and the slum-like conditions. And we will all cheer on because we are too rich to go on Greyhound buses and can be magnanimous at the expense of those who do.