Sacramento to LA for $15 bucks? Say Hello to the FlixBus


Bus Wars? 

A few years ago an Bus alternative to Greyhound entered the Sacramento market,  Megabus with fares as low as $1.00 to Reno and San Francisco.   The San Francisco leg is extremely popular.  Giving Sacramentians a lower cost option for communters to the city.        Last January, the company discontinued its Reno-Sparks route.

 

A new player is entering the market. German-based bus carrier FlixBus announced new destinations in California on Thursday, including Sacramento, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Oakland and San Jose.

 

Trips from Sacramento to Los Angeles are as low as $14.99. Some are $19.99. Trips the other way are at $19.99. Trips to San Francisco are just $4.99.   They offer a route from L.A to Vegas for $7.00.   Unlike,Megabus Flexbus will offer snacks on some of it’s routes.

Update: Fares for Thursday and Friday are closer to $40.

FlixBus, which began in Germany, expanded to the United States in May of this year and plans to a major player in Transpotation in United States.  They plan to open in Stockton, Modesto, Merced  Fresno.and Reno.

Buses are coming back, But think Amazon.  No brick and morter stations.  Booking and paying online.  Book in advance and save?  There  prices are much lower on average than Greyhound and considerabley lower than the train.   They offer Free WiFi and charging stations.    Millennials seem to be the primary customer base .

The buses will be a true low cost alterative to the airlines.  Megabus makes one stop between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.  Traveltime between Northern Cailfornia and Southern Cailfornia will be six to seven hours compared to a one hour flight.    However once you factor, arrival time, security, travel time to the central city. (if your renting a car at LAX add an additional hour) the time difference is four hours.

I’ve expericed the MegaBus and loved it

From New Orleans to Austin Texas

https://sacratomatovillepost.com/2012/09/29/southern-travels-lovin-da-megabus-new-orleans-to-austin/

Nyc to Provience Rhode Island

https://sacratomatovillepost.com/2014/11/30/megabus-in-pictures-new-york-city/

http://www.flixbus.com

https://us.megabus.com/

They say what’s old become new again and Buses are back!

 

CityFella

 

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Airline Travel: Passengers Treated Like Manure


JETBLUECEOPIC

This is Robin Hayes CEO of JetBlue Airlines.  He is seated one JetBlue’s newest plane the Airbus A321.  This picture is in current USA Today (6/29/2015) and I noticed the arm rest is up in the picture.

Mr Hayes, seems like an average size man. Yet in the seat, he looks a bit Snug.

JetBlue is one of my favorite airlines. I’ve flown them for years without incident. A big man, I chose Jet Blue (and most airlines flying the Airbus) because of its superior seating space.

In the USA article Mr Hayes says he was tasked with delivering value to passengers and the carrier’s shareholders at the same time.

Which in passenger speak,  means higher prices and tighter cabins . Passengers now pay for baggage on Jet Blue.  Leaving Southwest as the lone carrier without bag fees for now. Profitability mean the single cabin Jet Blue will have tired cabins on their coast to cost flights like the monster carriers.   With a deluxe and business and economy seating.

Beginning sometime in 2016  we will lose that precious space on the A320 as the carrier plans to squeeze in 15 additional seats.  I’m sure if were  feeling  nostalgic about the former space, we can buy it back.  This practice is common on the big three ( American, Delta, and United)

From the picture, I am convinced Hayes and other airline executives are not passengers on their airlines.

On most airlines anyone over 5.9 and 180 pounds is obese. Southwest Airlines is one of the better airlines however if your are large, you may have to purchase an extra ticket.  From my experience their person of size policy is the most aggressive.

Alternatives and the absence of competition

Before airline deregulation in the late seventies.  The average American took the Bus or the train.  Deregulation brought the cost of the ticket down.   Deregulation took its toll on interstate bus travel leaving Greyhound as the only intercity buses system and today it serves fewer cities.   Passenger rail collapsed  leaving the government run Amtrak.

At one time there were more than 25 airlines, today there are more planes in the air, but fewer airlines.  In the last few years, the giant carrier United merged with giant Continental.   Giant carrier US Airways is now apart of giant American.

With fewer airlines to choose from more than anytime in the last 50 years , the price of travel in the US has increased and the service has deteriorated.    More people are packed on smaller planes with smaller seats and with fewer services.

With high speed rail, decades away, what are the alternatives ?

One airline to watch is the Las Vegas based Allegiance Airlines.  Their fares are often much lower than Frontier, Jet Blue and Southwest.   The carrier buys and refurbish  older planes, notably  the  MD-80 have room to spare at the fraction of the cost of new aircraft. Many of their routes are in third tier airports which have lower fees.  In Northern California, they fly out of Stockton, Fresno and Oakland.    With fares as low as $100 to Hawaii.     I have found the staff is attentive and the airline clean.

This this isn’t an airline for the business traveler.   There are often one to five flights a week to a dedestination.  If a flight is cancelled, you may have to wait a few days up to a week for the next flight.    You cant plan too far ahead  with Allegiance, the carrier has a reputation of cancelling unprofitable routes.

Megabus and the Bolt Bus (Operated by Greyhound)  offers real a alternative to air travel.   A Bus?  Yes.  These buses are equipped with free WiFi and they have power outlets to charge your phone and PC.

Unlike Greyhound, their are no brick and mortar stations.  Only a designated bus stops.  Tickets are pre purchased online and a boarding pass is required for travel.     The buses are generally non stop and is very popular with college students.

Pricing is much like the airlines.  You save $$$$ by purchasing tickets in advance.  It is possible to travel for as one dollar.   Megabus has grown by word of mouth.  All my experiences in the south, here in California and last year on the east coast (The Picture Below is their mammoth bus stop in New York City)  has been positive . The Buses are clean and on time.

NycMega2014 059

The Los Angeles-San Francisco corridor is one of the busiest in the world.  Its an hour flight. When you include wait time its about  3hours and 15 minutes* each way.   Average cost  of an advance ticket is $111 each way.

Travel time on Megabus : Seven hours and 30 minutes. Average Cost $40 each way.  The seats are wider, more legroom and no baggage cost.

A long time ago, there was only one real phone company in America AT&T

 The giant airlines really don’t care about customer service scores.  They are not concerned about the high scores of smaller Carriers  like Virgin ,Alaska and Jet Blue.   A few years ago, the airlines said they needed to charge to baggage to off set high fuel costs.   With fuel cost at their lowest in years, have the airlines reduced costs or eliminated baggage fees?

NO they don’t have to!

CityFella

Megabus in Pictures : New York City


Why fuss, take the bus.   I am a major fan of MegaBus.  For those not familiar with MegaBus.  Its a high tech ,low frills mode of travel.  Unlike Greyhound, there are no brick and mortar stations.  No coffee shops,  no seating, you are exposed to the elements.

You have to purchase your tickets online. Usually four to five hours in advance.

These picture were taken on Oct 31, 2014, Halloween.   My journey took me from midtown Manhattan to Providence Rhode Island.  A four hour non stop ride.

The New York Location is on  West 34th and ll th Ave, across the street from the Javits Convention Center.  A few blocks from the Empire State Building.

From this outside location you can travel to Toronto to the north and to Birmingham Alabama to the South.

NycMega2014 051

The Megabus Stop in da Big Apple

2014-10-31 12.05.26

One is the loneliest  number CityFella bags

NycMega2014 057The South side of the Javits Center

NycMega2014 052The View to the West -Hudson River to  Weehawken, New Jersey

NycMega2014 053The Stop is shared with NYC Transit 

NycMega2014 060

  NycMega2014 059

Hundreds use this stop every single day.2014-10-31 12.41.23 2014-10-31 12.42.10

2014-10-31 12.45.02 The average age of the travelers is 18-35

(you gotta love the interaction here)

NycMega2014 058

The Buses are equipped with slow but usable WiFi and power outlets.  However on this day the Wi Fi on my bus didn’t work.

Being first has it perks and for me its front seats on the upper level these are random shots of midtown and uptown.   These pictures were taken between 3pm ad 3:30pm.

2014-10-31 14.13.10 2014-10-31 14.02.33 2014-10-31 14.07.55 NycMega2014 061 2014-10-31 14.19.04

2014-10-31 14.42.13 2014-10-31 14.43.07
2014-10-31 14.44.38 2014-10-31 14.44.51 2014-10-31 14.50.06 2014-10-31 14.51.43

Airline Travel is madding, security lines, stuffed planes.  I did something that I rarely do on planes. Sleep.  I slept nearly 4 hours until the bus arrived (on time) in downtown Providence.

 







MEGABUS Coming to Sacramento………Fares Starting at $1.00


UPDATE,  TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

Megabus is coming to California, with the first Purple Double Decker buses rolling out of Sacramento Dec 12 from Old Sacramento (1020 Front Street ) to San Francisco and Sparks( Reno area) Nevada.

 

There will be 4 buses a day to San Francisco and 2 to Sparks.

The parent company Coach USA will also roll out service later in the month to  Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Riverside, and Las Vegas.

My experience with the Megabus was very positive (see story)

https://sacratomatovillepost.com/2012/09/29/southern-travels-lovin-da-megabus-new-orleans-to-austin/

CityFella

Southern Travels : Lovin da Megabus New Orleans to Austin


After 13 torturous hours on the hound.  This by the seat traveler got his act together.  Bought a Megabus ticket  on my Samsung.  From New Orleans  to Houston Texas and from Houston to Dallas and from Dallas to Austin.  It was gonna be a long day….

Megabus is well known in the south, and East Coast.  Low fares fast and direct routes  with fares as low as a buck.

Unlike Greyhound, there are no brick and mortar bus stations , just pick up points.   Fares are paid in advance  through the net, no cash changes hands .   Destinations are from point A to point B.

The Purple double decker buses have WiFi and power outlets for your PC or phone.

After being on the Greyhound for nearly 14 hours I had my reservations.

(http://sacratomatovillepost.com/2012/09/28/bus-6062-from-atlanta-to-new-orleans/)

There was a long line of people at  (Bienville Ave b/t N Peter St and N Front) at the pick up point in New Orleans.   It didn’t help when  a basic white bus pulled up in the bus stop.   Suddenly a purple double decker rounded the corner.  Whew!

A single female driver asked passengers to line up in a single line.   She took printed papers, and looked at phone conformations then waved passengers on to the bus.  A young man loaded luggage.    One woman with cash in her hand said she didn’t know she had to pre-purchase her ticket and was told the next bus to Houston would be about five.    She attempted to argue with the driver, who ignored her and boarded other passengers.

Most of the passengers  sat on the lower level, I went to upper level ,above the driver.     I was like a five year old boy, I had the entire space to myself.      The roof wasn’t glass and made of a tinted  plastic like material.    In the background was the Steve Harvey Show, Cool air was blowing through the vents.   There were large white trash bags on every fifth seat and the bus was clean.

The driver, went through the rules.. no smoking, please keep the bus clean, if there was a spill let her know and she would help clean it up.      There was going to be one stop.   and we would arrive in Houston on time!

Heaven on Wheels from New Orleans to Houston

The passengers on the Megabus were younger, one could almost say college students.  The leg room was okay as was the Wi Fi Service.   But there was wi fi and it was free.   There were electrical outlets in the ceilings and on the front seat.

The driver was no-nonsense…   Some one was loudly chewing gum and she told she could hear it above the music and perhaps she could go upstairs.    Our  single stop was at a Texaco  service station with a small restaurant in Western Louisiana.       Every thing was fried or had cheese, things that shouldnt be fried was fried,and slathered in mayo.    What I scraped off could have made two sandwiches.

There were moments when I thought, being on the upper level wasn’t a good idea.   I was worried that the top of the bus would hit the overpasses, especially when the bus bounced.

We arrived in Houston five minutes ahead of schedule.

The heat and humidity was oppressive and had won, give me the 100 degree dry Sacramento heat anytime.

Houston to Dallas in 20 minutes. 

Eleven dollars was the cost of my ticket.    Unlike New Orleans, this stop was a large lot where they washed and serviced the buses in Downtown Houston.   There were a few tents that sheltered passengers from the sun but not the humidity.   No water or drinks……

Two people, were sitting in  my coveted upper front window seats and I sat a row or two behind them.   I took pictures of  downtown Houston from my phone and texted them to friends and family.   Plugged up my and PC, phone and drifted off to sleep.   When I woke up, I was in the Dallas Metroplex four hours later.

I spent the night in Arlington.

The trip from Dallas (actually Grand Prairie Texas) to Austin was Five bucks.   Rinse and Repeat.

Megabus are now apart of my plans of my next visit to the east coast.

You miss a lot flying over the country or driving alone .     People in the airport rarely smile, or exchange pleasantries  it’s no longer a pleasant experience.

I was mostly smiles on this trip on the bus,  I met interesting people.   There is something to be said about old school….   Connecting.

If you have the time,  consider, the Bus or the Train

Note:  I am a big and tall man, 6.4 and over 300 pounds and you’re not likely to experience my level of discomfort and most travelers will discover they have much more room on the buses and trains than they do on the airlines. 

http://us.megabus.com/Default.aspx

https://www.greyhound.com/

http://www.amtrak.com/home

Cityfella 

 

 

Bus 6062 From Atlanta to New Orleans


The original plan was to drive from Atlanta to Austin Texas, until the Rent A Car Company told me they where going to give me a huge gas guzzling SUV, free was gonna cost me nearly $400 in gas.

So what’z a Sacramentian to do at 1045pm at the Atlanta airport?   Heck take the Bus.   My daughter raved about her experience on the MegaBus , so its the MegaBus for me… at least that was my plan.

The Bus was schedule to leave from the 400 block of Peachtree at midnight  and in 8 hours I would be in New Orleans.  The nice lady at the airport assured me MARTA would get me downtown in 20 minutes

With  smartphone in hand I called Megabus, after several attempts I realized I had to buy tickets in advance yikes…..  Okay Plan G,   Greyhound, yikes, Greyhound….. Marta stops at the Greyhound station and there was a bus leaving for New Orleans at 12.30  if I purchase my ticket online, I could save 40 bucks…  “that’s the ticket” however it was 11.20 and it was too late to buy a ticket for the 12:30.   The next bus was 530am.

The Atlanta Greyhound Station (there is a story here)

From coast to coast,  some Greyhound stations aren’t desirable neighbors.    Some stations are a magnet for crime activity.  It’s not unusual  in the big cities for people to arrive with no cash.  People are forced to leave home, others arrive with dream (Atlanta’s the Black Hollywood)   Some small communities use Greyhound as a tool to rid itself of undesirables, take the bus or jail.

I met an 18 year old on route to Montgomery,Alabama. When he was 15, his  step father kicked him out of the house and give him a one way ticket to Dallas and twenty dollars.   Three days later he  was arrested near the station after stealing a bag of chips. I was hungry and even though he had kinfolks in Dallas, he didn’t know them or  was given a telephone number.  It was get out!   His grandmother and cousin drove to Dallas and brought him back to Georgia , he finished high school and  now works for the city of Albany, Georgia and is engaged today.    When you get to a place you don’t know nobody, you just come back to the place you know, you hang around the station until they throw you out.   After the second day,  you get to know when the security people get off and then you go in undercover.  After a while they all know who you are.    Some people outside the station watch you, ask you want a cigarette or want a sandwich or something to drink.  The best thing to happen to me was getting picked up by the police.   They let me call my grandmother, if they didn’t take me to jail, I could have been anywhere or dead.  

In and around the Atlanta station is a flurry of activity on this Thursday night .   There were signs that indicated Greyhound had entered the century with Wi fi on the buses and new buses promising luxurious leg room.   There are electronic kiosks the allows those who have prepaid for their ticket to bypass the lines…. and at midnight there was an extremely long line.

Needing air, I stepped outside the station.   There were people everywhere, in the street, on the sidewalks, a long line of cars dropping and picking up passengers.   New and old cars expensive BMW SUV’s, Mercedes, people standing, looking for love ones. Higgs and kisses  amid  flashing blues lights from the Atlanta Police.

One man is walking around selling marijuana out of a box of Newport Cigarettes.  One young girl was chatting up an old man for a discrete encounter nearby for 20 bucks.   Various people asking for cigarettes.

One young man approached me with a well crafted speech( ‘ sir I have fallen on hard times…. I would like to sing you a song by Michael Jackson for a donation) his lower lip quivering. a song wasn’t required  and I  reached down and gave him all my coins  Prehaps he was intimidated by my presence,  because there was no quivering as he  asked other people for money, at one point he was high fiving it with a few random men walking in the street.

Across the street from the station was a liquor store, selling Georgia lotto tickets, and there was steady flow of business.     I thought to myself (The old Sacramento Station was a resort compared to this)

Profiling

Its past 2am in the Atlanta Greyhound Station.   Looking around and discreetly taking pictures with my smartphone, I noticed a wide range of passengers.   Professionals on route to smaller cities in Georgia. People down on their luck, sitting next to people who are simply afraid to fly.  International travelers from Europe wanting to be near other americans.   Bus travel isn’t inexpensive, when you factor in food traveling by bus in some instances is more expensive than air travel.

The truth is there are thousands of small towns that aren’t close to affordable airport.   One man who lives in Mississippi says there is a small airport near his home, he said a round trip ticket from Atlanta is over $3oo vs $36 dollar ticket. There are a surprising number of professionals who take Greyhound daily.

Late night Stories

The tale repeated itself many times in the night.  Someone from somewhere was supposed to pay for their ticket and they have no way of getting home and have no where to go…..

A gentleman in his late 40’s or early 50’s  with two large garbage bags told me his story.

He was on his way from Naples Florida to Clifton Georgia via Atlanta.  Traveling through Atlanta was cheaper than going directly to Clifton from Naples.  So it was his plan to purchase a ticket in Atlanta then going on to Clifton.   After getting off the bus in Atlanta, he stepped outside to get a smoke and was beaten and robbed outside the station.   He told me he received a black eye ( I couldn’t tell)   Feeling a bit hungry, I offered to buy him dinner.

I think people who live in big cities are more attuned to lurking danger.    I lived in New York and San Francisco before settling in Sacramento and my antenna is always on.

Our bacon burgers were ready and I found an empty table in the food area. ( The burger was the best I’ve had in some time.)     All of a sudden a man sits down at our table. No. may I join you or can I sit with you,  he just plops himself at our table, no food just there .   My unfortunate friend wanted catsup with his fries and was going to get up and leave his food there.     I’m watching are unannounced  table mate who I suspected was there for no good.  I’m feeling a snatch and run, I can just feel it and I am trying to get  my dinner partner to stay.    He wouldn’t get my signals if they where 10 feet high.   Out of desperation I said stay here. and then stared  at our uninvited guest, until he left… and I went after Gomer, saying dude, you need to be very aware of where you are.   That guy was waiting for an opportuntiy to steal your food and by way, where are you plastic bags?…scholding him!.   There over there., well if you want to keep your stuff   you better go get um    I from a small town, I don’t think like this….   Well I can only afford one dinner… so pay attention!

A lady asked if she could sit with us.     I think she overheard his story and possibly thought I was getting played.    This women knows the ins and outs of the station.    I know this place., you better believe it.    It was clear to me, she was all business.   She had two bags.. one filled with food an 8 piece container of chicken and assorted chips and cookies, waters, and napkins…

Where you going? LBC ( Long Beach,California) she said. you aint from here I can tell by your accent...    Yes, I’m from California I said, Sacramento, I knew you weren’t from here.    Why the bus to California?  I asked, oh I don’t fly, my husband is watching my kids and I will be back in time before he goes crazy.   I used to live in Southern California, but my husband is from here….

How do you like living  here in Atlanta I asked?  I don’t.   The people here are wanna bees, they think they are tough, but everybody here is trying to be somebody.    My kids thought they were bad ,but Long Beach turned them out.  and they don’t wanna go back, so I go by myself.  I had other questions but her focus seemed to be on Gomer.

She was a combination of Barbara Walters and police detective.   She wanted him to re-tell his story.  So what happened?  I was gonna buy a ticket, I’m from Florida and tickets are cheaper here in Atlanta, so I stepped outside for a cigarette and somebody asked me for a cigarette and I reached into my pocket and they beat and robbed me.    So I called my brother and he going to wire me a ticket.  hmm, she sorted.,and looked at me.  in rapid fire she said, why didn’t you buy your ticket before going outside.  This place is rough. a few weeks ago a women was robbed in line trying to buy her ticket, somebody put a snub nose in the womans back and robbed her inline!  I needed a cigarette! … huh she said.  again looking at me.   He went on with his story, and she found holes and he became defensive.  At one point I said to him, yeah that doesn’t make sense. …  She was on fire and he was perspiring…  I was enjoying it and saying to myself , I’m glad I’m not him!

Unfortunately, her bus was loading.   He was relieved.   Yall don’t believe me , but its true!

Things went downhill after she left.   He was telling me tales of an uncle who is a director in Los Angeles and of the cities he visited in California.  After a long story about working for a millionaire in Martha’s Vineyard and his meetings with Princess Diana, the Clinton’s  Bill Gates and other high profile people, my bull shit meter exploded and I told him he was full of shit.   I’m now Punching holes into his stories, he is boring me.  AT 3 am a security guard walked by as asked him why he was still there?      Well, I’m still waiting for my ticket. he said.    man you told me that last night, you’ve been in this station for almost two days, you’ve got to go.  Okay he said sheepishly.   Hmmm, the lady knew..

Cityfella Undercover

By  4am most of the patrons of the station was in some stages of sleep  Others at the phone charger station.    So I walked around discreetly  taking pictures with my smartphone

Bus 6062 to New Orleans

The Atlanta Greyhound Station is a series of portable trailers.   The station seems smaller than the old Sacramento Station and the location of the station  is temporary and has been for some time.

At 430, the small restaurant reopened, travelers in a zombie like state walk over for that jolt of coffee.   Passengers began to rise and make their way to gates.  In the background was a repeat of  Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on the big screen.

Standing in front of me was a well dressed tall older  lady with a neat grey afro who was struggling with two large brown suitcases going in different directions. can you help me  she asked?  Sure, I said,   Where ya headed, home, she said, I’ll be home in a couple hours…    I went to my high school reunion in New Jersey. New Jersey? yes,!

As the line started moving, it occurred to me, this was the first time I’d been on a Greyhound Bus in nearly 20 years, the last ride  was an Express Bus from Sacramento to Los Angeles and it was miserable and this ride was 13 hours, what have I done?    The sign said the new Greyhound had more leg room and Wi Fi and for a moment I was excited…this might be fun  Wi fi !    Then someone asked the bus driver did the bus have WiFi?  No, they only have it on the new buses.    Well that dream lasted  all of 45 seconds….  Plan B

Nothing changes from high school.  There were passengers with their feet and gear on the seats.    Plan B, meant the last row.next to the rest room, I my legs could hang out in the aisle.

One man thought he would lie down, discouraging anyone from sitting.    One look at my sizeable azz, he had two choices, move or die.   He chose the former .

I told them the bus was full, they always do this said the driver.   Dreams of sitting alone ended as the driver walked through the bus, one look from the driver made the toughest passengers  sit erect and place his items below the seat.

One Empty Seat

I just wanna sleep, wanna sleep is all I could think of..    The bus was packed , the one empty seat separated me from the reclining man .   The last seat was hard and unlike the other seats, the last row didnt recline, but sleep eventually came.   I woke up, hot.  I stood up and it was cool in the aisle ,ahh were sitting on the engine.    Great!    I looked about the bus and their where a few empty seats. I guess some people got off. My choice was cool vs leg room.   I stayed in the rear.   Sleep…..

6062 observations

We were in Columbus Georgia when I woke up.  An older white man sitting in seats 49/50 gets off to smoke.  When he returns he finds a Blackman sitting in seat 49.  Whitman looks at the black man who is looking out the window and then sits in seat 17 with another white man.

Mobile, Alabama was the first rest stop.  As in Atlanta, the choices was burgers and chicken fingers.  I settled for another burger.  In line, a bright smiling woman asked if I wanted chill and cheese on my fries and burger?  “You devil woman” I flirted, don’t do this to a big old overweight man.   She laughed. okay sir…     Looking around, the food department seemed much like the Atlanta , so the I watched my burger being constructed..   BUTTER!  of course, she slathered butter on the buns….   Oh, I said, butter on the buns?….. not missing a beat, the cook turned around and said, everything goes better with butter baby!    Yes ma’am!

The Mobile station was clean and quiet none of Atlanta chaos,  all the employees smiled and said good morning.  One older man had trouble navigating his walker through the maze of aluminum chairs and tables, slam, crash, refusing help.  The bus was completely full including the spot between myself and reclining man.    The new passenger said, its hott back here, how can you stand it?   I like it hot, reclining man grumbled.   

On this and the remaining legs of the trip, I became the official bathroom attended.     Yes, its occupied or No, you can go right in.

Reclining man said he couldn’t wait to get out for a cold drink.

The Biloxi  Mississippi station was new.  Thee old station was a victim of Katrina.    Very  modern and clean,.  There wasn’t a restaurant, just vending machines.   I bought a couple of sodas .    The Bus was half full at this point.  One large family get on..  A man  and older lady and four children ranging in age from 2 to 12,  the older woman quickly found a seat, but it was clear  she may have been the grandmother or an aunt but  he was on his own…          I looked over at Reclining man  and he looked tired, did you get something to drink I asked, no my money’s funny, I offered him one of mine,  thank you.  I really needed that.  

Remnants of Katrina is still evident in Biloxi .   Large Casinos sprout out of the grassy fields lining the shore line.  On this day after the Labor Day weekend the beaches are empty.

Its difficult to miss “Sharkhead’s  a tourist shop and restaurant  that just reopened this year after the old  location was destroyed by Katrina.

Making children sit is challenging, it doesn’t matter if its by bus or plane.    The man with the children had a huge bag of snacks, from burgers to Little Debbie snacks.   Two boys, two girls.  Even with all the snacks in the world, snacks can’t cure boredom.   Dad was tired and overwhelmed .   The older children a boy and girl about 11 and 12 were okay and made due, the trouble child (my favorite) was the younger girl about 9.   She  hauled off and slapped the older brother and started crying to her dad, one look at her, and you could tell she was devil in the family.    She pushed and tapped the boys.  I found it curious why she didn’t terrorize her older sister.    Until…………

The older sister was eating a burger and Doritos and quietly looking out of the window.   After a while, she got up and went to the bathroom, the evil sister took two quick bites out of the burger.   When the sister returned, she immediately knew who had taken a bite out the burger and dad or (who was getting hit too) could not protect  her from choking and slapping her younger sister.    Ah ha, I said to myself, big sis is the real deal, that why no one bothers her.

We were all releaved with the family got off  the bus in Gulfport.   However they had left their mark.   The floors  and  aisles were littered with uneaten burgers and other sandwiches, chips.   No one picked anything up, passengers simply walked through the garbage.   I was ready to be off 6062 my back hurt and it was hot!

Along the roadway, most of the billboards were blowing freely in the wind, remnants  of Issac.  As we crossed into Louisiana from Mississippi,Reclining  man started talking , we’re about 45 minutes from New Orleans.

  Reclining man

That’s my home lived there all my life, whole life.  Hold on a minute! he says,  he reaches for his cell phone, and tells someone to make sure to pick him up from the station and not to forget , his battery is almost gone, and turn to me and says yep , Nu Orléans is my home.

Where you there during Katrina?  yes, and I was there when  Rita  hit and I was a kid when  Betsy hit.   But Katrina was bad, it was quick and hard.   You see those apartments over there?  He points across the freeway. no body lives in them, and those are new.    You know Brad Pitt did a lot here, a lot of these people politicians and other people  talked, but Brad worked with the people and helped build a lot of  homes , he cares about people and the city .        What do you think about the city now?    its bad,  a lot of crime, its bad man.       Would you move from here?   naw, this is my home, people who live here have roots here.  I know a lot of people who have left here but never came back, moved to Houston, Baton Rouge,  but those who stayed, stayed because their heart was here.   This place is in my heart, all my people are here.

As we entered the downtown area, passing the Superdome, we see people sitting, sleeping underneath the freeway, one woman with part of her leg amputated is lying on the ground  inches away from her wheelchair.    I hate that! he said, seeing people like that, there is  a lot of people here homeless with no place to go, I hate that!     He stares into the window as 6062 pulls into the station., hey man, thanks for the drink.

NEW ORLEANS 

New Orleans has a reputation, so I expected the Greyhound station to be like Atlanta.   It was anything but.   The Greyhound station in Union Station and shares the building  Amtrak.   Union Station During  Katrina, the station served as jail for the city.  The station which was in its last phase of renovation is stunning and clean.   My smartphone wouldn’t  be able to capture the simple beauty of this art deco wonder, these images are from google.

The exterior

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The mural represents the history of New Orléans and the state of Louisiana

The Station was pristine, there were few people inside or out.   One of the reasons, this station close’s early and their isn’t the traffic of

Atlanta  he last bus departure was 945pm and the last train left at 7pm.      In fact there less than 10 people in the station at 715pm.

 One family was waiting for an Greyhound attendant to return, planned to buy tickets to Shreveport for their nephew.   After reading a sign limiting travel to those 15 an above, the uncle  said he was going to lie because his nephew was 14, his wife said she wasn’t going to lie and would drive her nephew if she had to.      The conversation was overheard by a Greyhound supervisor, who told them that 15-year-old provision was for night travel and would not apply to the nephew because the bus was at 630am,  he went on to say he  appreciated their honesty.

I told the supervisor how beautiful the station was..    He said it is, he said can you believe they put a drop ceiling here?  The dropped ceilings took way from this.   They tore that ceiling out and most of what you see has been restored…    Everything here is marble…. it took a long time but it is nice.   That mural is new, it tell the history or New Orléans and the State and their adding one more section.

I asked him why the station closes early, he said a lot of people don’t travel much at night.     New Orléans is bad.  The uncle said yeah its bad! You remember  a year or so ago a 4 year old was killed right outside the station.     Yeah, I remember .   I moved out of this city two years ago,  I live bout 60 miles from here in Mississippi.    Yeah New Orléans is bad, said the uncle,  my son will killed two years ago.  I told him to stay away from those gangs, I told him!     He was 19, he and two of his friends were killed.   I’m sorry, the supervisor said.. .. You know when they kill somebody, the just dont kill the son, they kill the whole family. (I suddenly found it difficult to breathe)

You know what gets me, half these people have kids, and the state would go after them for the child support they owe, they would be in jail !  The supervisor said in anger.   Why I asked? I’m from California and they are aggressive collecting child support and they will  put people in jail. .  I don’t know, but this city and the state  is bad……   The uncle started to get up from his seat -it was clear his family wanted to leave. ( his sons death and his statement about killing a family was on my chest-can’t imagine!)    I want to hold  him father to father.   We shake hands…. The family leaves.    I thank the supervisor and he leaves.     I go into the bathroom and quietly cry.

Cityfella