College students Miles Taylor and Aleena Parenti documented their four-day trip across the country
Transportation has been Taylor’s passion for years. After starting a public transportation blog when he was 13, he checked every train and bus station in the Boston area by the time he graduated from high school. He is now studying Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, has expanded with a YouTube channel, and has accomplished feats such as driving through the entire Bay Area Rapid Transit system in six hours. SFGate called him a “transit guru” for his goal of driving every mile of public transit in the United States. The trip this month was not even his first experience across the country with Greyhound.
This time he recruited Parenti, a fellow Penn student, to accompany him in Pittsburgh for the four-day trip to Seattle. They documented the journey in one Twitter threadattracts thousands of fans, some of them even met her at Greyhound stations with food.
Greyhound, which serves about 16 million passengers a year, can be a lifeline for some undocumented immigrants, homeless and rural Americans, but is often maligned for its on-time performance and station infrastructure.
Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker said in a statement that the company values Taylor’s insights and that the company is working to help customers achieve their goals “as safely and as efficiently as possible.”
Like airlines, Booker said the company is struggling with an “industry-wide driver shortage” that has impacted service in some areas, and that its stations range from full terminal buildings to curbside gas stations “to ensure less populated ones too.” Communities still have the necessary access to intercity transport.”
Shortly after arriving in Seattle – 28 hours late – Taylor and Parenti spoke about seeing the country on the road, Greyhound’s service and the future of bus travel in the United States.
These questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Q: Why did you decide to travel?
Taylor: Up until the day before we left, Greyhound had a rewards program that was really exploitable because every ride you took could earn you one point or up to three points depending on the type of ticket you bought. And when you earned 16 points, they gifted you free round-trip travel anywhere in the country. I already had a free trip so I thought well I want to go to the west coast.
Parents: So I just bought some Greyhound tickets and we rode between Philly and New Jersey and earned enough points to get me a free ticket at a much cheaper price than actually buying the ticket.
Q: How do you feel now that it’s done?
Taylor: There’s a serious sense of accomplishment in traveling anywhere with overland transit rather than flying. Whether it’s driving, Amtrak or Greyhound, you end up somewhere, it’s like I made it. We vacation in Seattle – we did fun touristy things, but the travel was part of the fun.
Q: What was the hardest part?
Taylor: Getting stuck in Indianapolis was probably the lowest point because they locked Aleena’s stuff on a bus and yelled at us for trying to get her. Nobody really knew what was going on. My other low 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 skylight because there was no air conditioning on the bus. But then it went down to 57 degrees and it was so cold. It was a night drive and I didn’t get any sleep.
Q: How much sleep would you say you got during the trip?
Taylor: Maybe like 20 hours [over four nights].
Q: what did you do for food
Parents: Before I set off, I packed a whole bag of snacks because our original itinerary didn’t include any food stops. Most of our stops were around 20 minutes, so I packed lots of PB&J sandwiches, crackers, and snacks. But this route we ended up taking had a lot of good food.
“I think every aspiring presidential candidate should ride Greyhound for at least a day.”
When we were in cities, we went to real restaurants—usually we got takeout. In Burlington, Iowa, we went to this breakfast buffet.
Taylor: We’ve had a couple of instances where people following our twitter would come to a station and give us food. In Indianapolis we got some people grilling us, and then in Boise they gave us some donuts for breakfast. That was absolutely incredible.
Q: You said in your thread that Greyhound changed your itinerary twice during the trip. What happened?
Parents: Our first was through Chicago and then Minneapolis and then Montana. Then in Pittsburgh it was changed to go down to LA and then up. I’m glad we didn’t – it would have taken forever. In St. Louis our route changed again and we drove up into Iowa, past and then up through Idaho and Oregon to Seattle.
Taylor: We arrived 28 hours after our scheduled arrival. But we expected that to happen and we didn’t have anything planned for the first day in Seattle.
Q: What should people considering long-distance bus travel know?
Taylor: Bring snacks. But also use the stops that you have. The cool thing about Greyhound via Amtrak is that you make about an hour to two hour layovers at various locations. For example, we knew we were going to get so much time in Omaha once we left Des Moines. We found a restaurant, arranged a place to eat, and then we just went there and got some real food.
Parents: My highlight of the trip was St. Louis. We were stuck there from about 3am to 7am. We went to the St. Louis Arch at sunrise. Like, what are you doing these hours in St. Louis – you just find something.
Q: I know you’ve done this before, Miles, but what do you think you both learned about the country when you saw it on the bus?
Taylor: I think every aspiring presidential candidate should ride Greyhound for at least a day because you’re only getting exposed to people you wouldn’t otherwise see. They’re people who deserve a vote because Greyhound doesn’t treat them very well, and they’re trying to make ends meet.
Q: Finally, do you think the United States should invest more in bus travel, or should more money be poured into airports or bullet trains?
Taylor: In an ideal world, the train network would be much more robust and you would have buses that act as feeders to the trains. You would take a bus from a small town to a train station and it would be time to catch the train. Given current attitudes towards trains and transport in general, I think it’s best to just invest in more buses; that seems to be as much as people are willing to spend at the moment.
You have to remember that Greyhound is a private company that just so happens to have a monopoly on bus travel in the US, so they can treat people however they want. Nationalizing Greyhound allows more money to be invested to improve service quality a bit, e.g. B. to invest in new stations.
Q: Miles, you were known in Boston as the teenager who checked every T station. Have you turned to bigger things now? What’s next?
Taylor: I’ll do my Abitur in December and then ideally get a job somewhere with a transport company. The big change was during Covid. I started creating video content suited to bigger adventures.
As for the things I want to do, I still have a free Greyhound ticket. I’ve only just started trying to visit the least used Amtrak station in each state. Later this summer, my boyfriend and I will attempt to drive every mile in the US on trolley buses — buses that basically run on cables. They serve five US cities, and we’ll be driving Amtrak across the US trying to drive every mile of it. And Boston is redesigning its bus network. So when I land in Boston I’ll probably want to double check all the routes.
I love editing videos and making people laugh. I’ve been approached by people saying I came to public transport because of you and that makes me really happy because it’s something more people should be interested in. Ultimately, with climate change, public transport is the future.