Monday, June 09, 2008

Four Dollars A Gallon Revisited

Last week we talked about the price of gas, and how its rise affected the footloose-and-fancy-free lifestyle of yours truly. It would appear that the Black Hat Guy is not alone.

Public transportation in DC and other major cities is experiencing a noticeable increase in ridership. The prospect of intercity bus travel is also becoming a more attractive one. Or at least it would be. I remember going from one city to another by bus a number of times in my college days. That was thirty years ago. There are those who would say that the same mode of transportation today... well, let's just say I wouldn't recommend that ladies take an overnighter anywhere, shall we?

But that may be changing, as bus companies look to new ways to attract customers:

"Spurred partly by the soaring cost of taking the car on that weekend road trip, bus ridership is up across the country for the first time in 50 years — a 13% increase this year compared with 2006, according to a DePaul University study. Now major operators are vying for a slice of the growing market for non-stop service between major cities — previously the purview of niche operators catering primarily to immigrants and low-income populations. Both BoltBus and Megabus, which is owned by the Scotland-based Stagecoach Group, are winning over new customers with sleek coaches touting $1 fares from New York to D.C., Chicago to Cleveland and Kansas City to St. Louis. More than a cheap ride, the vehicles feature amenities unheard of on traditional bus lines — including real flush toilets, wider seats and power outlets for all."

This is good news, and long overdue. I can blog about my trip while I'm taking it. I can read the news, watch a DVD, entertain myself in the same comfort as on a jetliner, with a lot less hassle. In finding ways to reduce overhead and increase amenities at the same time, we may yet see a revival of ground transportation. BoltBus goes back and forth along the East Coast; Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. MegaBus offers "[d]aily bus service between Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and Detroit." Their website is inaccessible as this is being written.

But it looks as though we'll see a renaissance in ground transportation in the next decade, one that I hope is not limited to bus travel. Then maybe I can take the Amtrak overnighter from DC to Cincinnati (the Cardinal, I believe that route is called) for a lot less trouble (not to mention money) than driving.

Of course, I might have to rent a car once I get there. Hmmm....

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