In Praise of Intercity Bus Service

Why coaches are cool.

June 18, 2015
Let me guess. You love trains. Subways, long distance passenger trains, freight rail. Those driverless people movers at the airport (and at West Virginia University). It doesn’t matter. To you, trains are just cool.
You think Uber is awesome. You are excited for when you can finally drive an all electric car. Maybe you own a hybrid, and aspire to have the next one come with a plug. You were riding ZipCar before it was hot. You think that Google’s self-driving car is cool, and you think that the laws should catch up with the technology. You belong to a bike sharing program.  
Academia seems to breed us transportation progressive types. Or maybe we were like this before we enter campus life. Causation is always tricky to determine.
What you probably don’t love is intercity buses. When was the last time you road Greyhound, jumped on Peter Pan?
If you lived where I live, however, you too would add intercity bus service to your list of progressive transportation options. 
You see, we are blessed in Hanover with the Dartmouth Coach. (No affiliation to the institution of higher learning with the same name).
The Dartmouth Coach runs from metropolitan downtown Hanover to Boston (South Station and Logan) and NYC. The service to Boston runs 8 times a day, and costs $52 for a round trip ticket.  
Riding the Dartmouth Coach is the easiest and most pleasant way to travel to Boston or NYC. The service is professional, punctual, and safe. The drivers are courteous and kind. The coaches are modern and clean. There is WiFi on the bus. Power outlets in the seats. Free snacks and water are available. Nobody is allowed to gab on their cell phone. A movie is played.
Intercity bus service deserves to be re-branded for the efficient, safe, comfortable, and environmentally sound transportation service that it is. Services like Dartmouth Coach are hugely environmentally friendly. Each trip takes 50 potential individual automobile trips off the road. The savings in gas, carbon emissions, and highway congestion should not be underestimated.
Intercity buses service has been around for over 100 years. In some countries, like Mexico, intercity bus service is terrifically luxurious and affordable.
Why has intercity bus service in the US so fallen out of favor?  
Services like Dartmouth Coach clearly demonstrate the intercity bus service can offer great benefits to travelers.
What are technology system are similar to intercity buses? 
Systems that we no longer think of as particularly attractive or cutting edge. Systems that don’t get lots of attention. But, systems if designed and run correctly offer absolutely the right approach to meeting a consumer need.
Can you think of an educational equivalent to the intercity bus?
When was the last time you road from town to town in the back of a motor coach?


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