Students Miles Taylor and Aleena Parenti documented their four-day journey across the country
Transportation has been Taylor’s passion for years. After launching a transit blog as a 13-year-old, he went through all the train and bus stations in the Boston area when he graduated from high school. Now studying urban studies at the University of Pennsylvania, he expanded with a YouTube channel, and took on accomplishments such as cycling the entire Bay Area Rapid Transit system in six hours. SFGate called him a “transit guru” for his goal of driving every mile by public transportation in the United States. This month’s trip was not even his first experience takes Greyhound across the country.
This time he recruited Parenti, a fellow student at Penn, to join him in Pittsburgh for the four-day trip to Seattle. They documented the journey in one Twitter threadand draws thousands of fans, some of them even met them at Greyhound stations with food.
Greyhound, which serves around 16 million passengers a year, may be a lifeline for some undocumented immigrants, homeless and rural Americans, but is often reviled for its precise performance and station infrastructure.
Greyhound spokesman Crystal Booker said in a statement that the company appreciated Taylor’s insights and that the company works to help customers reach their destinations “as safely and as efficiently as possible.”
Like the airlines, Booker said, the company is struggling with an “industry-wide driver shortage” that has affected service in some areas, and that stations range from complete terminal buildings to gas stations by the road “to ensure that even less populated communities still have access to intercity. transportation.”
Shortly after arriving in Seattle – 28 hours late – Taylor and Parenti talked about seeing the country on the road, the service on the Greyhound and the future of bus travel in the United States.
This question and answer has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: Why did you decide to take the trip?
Tailor: Until the day before we left, Greyhound had a rewards program that could really be used, because for every trip you took, you could get one point or up to three points depending on the type of ticket you bought. And when you got 16 points, they gave you a free tour anywhere in the country. I already had a free trip, so I wanted to travel to the west coast.
Parents: So I just bought a bunch of Greyhound tickets and we cycled them between Philly and New Jersey and collected enough points to get a free ticket, at a much cheaper price than actually buying the ticket.
Q: How do you feel now that it’s done?
Tailor: It’s a serious sense of accomplishment when traveling anywhere by land transport instead of flying. Whether it’s driving, Amtrak or Greyhound, you end up somewhere, it’s like I’ve achieved this. We’re on vacation in Seattle – we’ve done fun touristy things, but the trip was part of the fun.
Q: What was the most challenging part?
Tailor: Getting stuck in Indianapolis was probably the lowest point because they locked Aleena’s stuff on a bus and called us to try to get it. No one really knew what was going on. My second low point was when we had to take the Salt Lake Express from Salt Lake City to Boise. The seats were uniquely uncomfortable, and they opened the sunroof because there was no air conditioning on the bus. But then it came down to 57 degrees and it was so cold. It was an overnight trip and I could not sleep.
Q: How much sleep would you say you got during the trip?
Tailor: Maybe 20 hours [over four nights].
Q: What did you do for food?
Parents: Before I left, I packed a whole bag of snacks because our original itinerary did not have a food stop. Most of our stops were like 20 minutes, so I packed a lot of PB&J sandwiches and biscuits and snacks. But this route we ended up with had a lot of good food.
“I feel that any aspiring presidential candidate should ride the Greyhound for at least a day.”
When we were in cities, we went to actual restaurants – we usually got takeaway. In Burlington, Iowa, we went to this breakfast buffet.
Tailor: We had a couple of cases where people who followed our Twitter came to a station and gave us food. In Indianapolis we got some people who gave us barbecue, and then in Boise a couple gave us fries for breakfast. It was absolutely amazing.
Q: You said in your thread that Greyhound changed your itinerary twice in the middle of the trip. What happened?
Parents: Our first was up through Chicago and then Minneapolis, and then over through Montana. So in Pittsburgh it was changed to go down to LA and then up. I’m glad we did not – it would take forever. In St. Louis, the route changed again and we went up to Iowa, over, and then up through Idaho and Oregon to Seattle.
Tailor: We ended up arriving 28 hours after we were leaving. But we had completely expected this to happen, and we had nothing planned for the first day in Seattle.
Q: What should people considering a long-distance bus trip know?
Tailor: Bring snacks. But also take advantage of the stops you have. The cool thing about Greyhound over the Amtrak is that you get hour-to-two-hour stops in different places. For example, we knew that when we left Des Moines, we would have so much time in Omaha. We found a restaurant, planned a takeaway, and then we just went there and got proper food.
Parents: My highlight of the trip was going to St. Louis. We were stuck there from 6 p.m. 03:00 to 07:00. We went to St. Louis Arch at sunrise. Just like, what do you do during those hours in St. Louis – you just find something.
Q: I know you’ve done this before, Miles, but how do you both feel about learning about the country from seeing it by bus?
Tailor: I feel that any aspiring presidential candidate should ride the Greyhound for at least a day because you are only exposed to people you would not otherwise see. They are people who deserve a vote because Greyhound does not treat them so well and they are trying to get somewhere.
Q: When you get out of this, do you feel that the United States should invest more in bus travel, or should more money go to airports or high-speed trains?
Tailor: In an ideal world, the train network will be much more robust, and you will have buses that act as a feeder to the trains. You would take a bus from a small town to a train station, and it would be time for the train. Given the current attitude towards trains and transit in general, I think the best option is to invest in more buses; It seems to be as far as people are willing to spend right now.
You have to remember that Greyhound is a private company that happens to have a monopoly on bus travel in the United States, and because of that, they can treat people the way they want. The nationalization of Greyhound will allow more money to be put into it to improve the quality of service a bit, such as investing in new stations.
Q: Miles, you were known in Boston as the teenager who rated every subway station. Have you upgraded to bigger things now? What’s next?
Tailor: I finish school in December and then I ideally get a job at a transit agency somewhere. The big change was under covid. I started making video content, which is suitable for larger adventures.
When it comes to things I want to do, I have one more free Greyhound ticket. I almost just started trying to visit the least used Amtrak station in each state. Later this summer, my friend and I will try to drive every mile with a trolley bus in the USA – buses that run on wires, basically. They drive in five American cities, and we will take Amtrak around the United States to try to cycle every mile of them. And Boston is doing a redesign of the bus network, so if I end up in Boston, I’ll probably end up wanting to go through all the routes again.
I love video editing and making people laugh. I have had people come to me and say that I came into transit because of you, and that makes me very happy because there is something more people should be interested in. Ultimately, with climate change, public transport is the future.