For the past 100 years, Greyhound Lines, Inc. has been using its buses to take people all across North America, and today the company celebrates its centennial anniversary.
More than a few people have nostalgic memories tied to the days where they had little money and were forced to take a bus and travel (in only mild discomfort) in order to visit a loved one. That makes for a great story, but that romantic image doesn’t capture the full scope of Greyhound experiences.
In order to provide a more complete picture and “celebrate” the company’s 100 years of service, we decided to revisit all the things that have actually gotten Greyhound in the headlines. Unfortunately for Greyhound, their press coverage over the past century has not been great.
Let’s take a look:
It had been a seemingly smooth first17 years for the company. But in January 1931, a Greyhound driver who had been fired decided his best recourse was to steal a 40-seat bus in New Jersey and, for some reason, take it to Boston.
Later that same year, passengers on a Greyhound got the chance to travel back in time to the wild west. Two men boarded the bus in Oklahoma and waited until it was near Shamrock, Texas before drawing revolvers and forcing the driver to stop. The robbers made off with $668 in cash and $273 in jewelry and left their victims stranded in the Texas desert.
Six years later, in November of 1937, a vicious strike between drivers and management led to a series of violent incidents. A nonstriking driver was kidnapped near Pittsburgh, a female passenger elsewhere in Pennsylvania suffered head injuries after rocks were thrown at a bus she was on, a manager near Buffalo said “a large quanitity of sugar” was added to a bus’s oil, and that same Buffalo manager said another one of his buses was forced off the road by a different company’s passenger bus.
Fast forward to 1945 when a man in Columbia, South Carolina was able to walk onto a company lot, hop in a bus worth $12,000, and drive off with it without being stopped. Police caught him driving the bus through a residential area and realized something was a bit off about that. When police returned the bus, the company hadn’t even realized it was gone.
In September of the following year, 14 sleeping passengers were injured on their ride to Boston when a Greyhound bus careened down a 20-foot embankment.
Perhaps learning from the 1945 joyrider’s mistakes, a 20-year-old Providence man tried to be clever in his repeated thefts of a $25,000, 39-seat Greyhound bus. He waited until his local station closed at night, stole the bus to drive to Boston, then returned the vehicle before the station opened in the morning. He even wore a driver’s cap and used a “special” sign to divert suspicions. His streak ended after five trips when police arrested him in Cambridge in September 1961.
In the 1970s speed round, “neatly dressed” bandits near Detroit boarded a Greyhound bus and robbed everyone on board to the tune of $35,000 in cash, jewelry, and other items in 1975. A Greyhound spokesman described it as “the richest haul” in the company’s history. The same year in Branford, Connecticut, a man hijacked a Greyhound bus, kicked everybody off, then sped away. He was eventually stopped when he smashed the vehicle into a blockade made up of police cruisers. In 1977, a man hijacked a Greyhound bus, killed the driver and a female passenger, and held other riders hostage for nine hours before giving up and getting arrested.
Of course, Greyhound isn’t just about buses. They’ve also got lockers! In 1966, two thieves in Philadelphia chose a Greyhound terminal locker as their location to stash a stolen Picasso sketch worth several thousand dollars. In 1969, a Florida man accused of two killings at the Boston Playboy Club was caught and led officers to a Greyhound terminal locker where he stashed the murder weapon.
In more recent years, Greyhound’s headline-grabbing moments have not improved. There was the drunk man who hijacked a bus using a pellet gun in 2011. The 11 bank and credit union robberies committed by a driver in 2010, some of which were along his bus route. In the same year, a Greyhound bus in California crashed, killing six people. Last year, a bus flipped over after running off a highway in Ohio, leaving 35 people injured. And, of course, there’s the man who stabbed, killed, decapitated, and then began to eat a fellow passenger on a Canadian Greyhound bus in 2008.
Here’s to the next 100 years, where instead of being robbed, held hostage, injured, or even killed and eaten, you’ll hopefully spend your hours aboard a Greyhound bus enjoying the WiFi!