Issue: May 2014

The greening of long-distance travel

by Esther Francis

Taking the bus for long-distance travel helps reduce the cumulative carbon footprint of the auto industry, with OEMs helping to reduce the impact further through the introduction of lighter materials and more efficient power trains.

A spin-off has been the introduction of door-to-door courier service partnerships in the United States that ship parts and spares cross-country. A study published in 2013 by M.J Bradley & Associates compared fares, travel time and emissions along 20 select U.S. city pairs across a variety of geographic regions served both by Amtrak and scheduled intercity bus service, which included Greyhound and its sister company, BoltBus. 

The study also reviewed whether any government subsidies were required. Some of the key findings from the report included: 

• On 65% of the analyzed trips, the minimum one-week advanced purchase fare was lower for intercity bus 

• Intercity bus offers more schedules per trip than comparable Amtrak trips 

• On average, per-passenger carbon emissions from motor coaches are 45% – 65% less than comparable Amtrak trips 

• Intercity bus serves 2,766 cities and towns in the lower 48 states, while Amtrak serves more than 500 cities and towns in 46 of the 48 states 

• Total trip time by motor coach is generally comparable with Amtrak 

• The level of taxpayer subsidies to operate intercity bus service is significantly lower than rail

“This study affirms our position that traveling by intercity bus is a viable option for consumers who are looking to lower their travel costs and receive more value in the form of a better experience. Not to mention, we’re helping reduce the environmental impact on communities across the United States by operating modern, fuel-efficient equipment,” says Dave Leach, president and CEO, Greyhound Lines. 

Greyhound is modernizing its fleet with new buses, featuring onboard amenities such as Wi-Fi, power outlets, extra legroom and leather seating, upgrading its terminals and ticketing systems, and introducing premium-level services such as Greyhound Express and BoltBus across North America. The company also provides a number of other services. Greyhound Package Express offers same-day and early-next-day package delivery to thousands of destinations in North America. From September 2013, Greyhound Package Express® (GPX), started offering door-to-door service within the 48 contiguous United States. 

Customers are able to schedule pickup and delivery of their packages by calling GPX or visiting www.shipgreyhound. com. “Traditionally, customers had to go to their local Greyhound terminal to use our services,” said Dave Phillips, vice president, GPX, in a press statement. “By leveraging our relationships with local couriers across the country, we’re now able to bring GPX right to your door.” GPX priority service levels are suited for time-critical shipments, which can be scheduled for same day or overnight, depending on departure time and distance. Priority service includes 24/7 monitoring by the GPX operations center and guaranteed delivery. 

The standard service is an economical option for less timesensitive shipments with delivery time estimates ranging from one to 15 business days based on distance. To facilitate GPX’s services, last year Greyhound signed a threeyear deal with Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, to build and support a redesigned shipment tracking portal for GPX’s shipping business in the U.S. The new interactive portal serves as a onestop portal solution for Greyhound customers and agents to set up and track their online shipping transactions with Greyhound. The portal was built by Capgemini and run on its Cloud Orchestration Management Platform End-to-End (COMPLETE), powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

Capgemini will support Greyhound with three years of AWS infrastructure provisioning, and ongoing management, application architecture, development and deployment Greyhound is owned by FirstGroup plc, the leading transport operator in the United Kingdom and North America. It has revenues of more than £6.9 billion per annum and about 120,000 employees. The company transports more than 2.5 billion passengers every year. 

Automotive Industries asked Lanesha Gipson, Senior Communications Specialist, Greyhound Lines, what differentiates Greyhound from other motorcoach service providers. 

Gipson: Greyhound is the largest provider of intercity bus transportation in North America, serving more than 3,800 destinations across the continent. The company offers flexibility as it travels to destinations in small, rural cities as well as between major cities with its Express service. For 100 years, Greyhound has been known for providing safe, convenient and affordable travel. Safety is the cornerstone of our business, and as such, our buses are equipped with the latest safety features, including three-point seat belts. We conduct daily coach inspections. 

AI: What role can companies like Greyhound play in making transportation “greener” and more cost effective? 

Gipson: By nature, intercity bus travel is the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation. For example, a single car carrying an average load achieves 36 passenger miles per gallon, whereas a Greyhound bus carrying an average load achieves 162 passenger miles per gallon and takes nearly 40 cars off the road. One way the motor coach industry can play a role in making coaches greener is to continue to make strides in the design of coaches. Greyhound recently placed one of the largest orders of new buses in its history. The first 120 were introduced to its fleet in 2013, with another 100 new buses scheduled in 2014. The company continues to exceed EPA standards with regard to carbon monoxide emissions and other noxious gases. All new buses are also extremely fuel efficient and are built with lighter materials than the older models. 

AI: What steps has Greyhound taken to get this message across to consumers?
Gipson: Greyhound educates customers about the advantages of traveling via intercity bus through our website, published articles, event marketing where people can see one of our new buses, and various advertising campaigns. 

AI: Tell us about your GPX shipping service – what are some of the highlights of your shipping division’s offerings? 

Gipson: GPX has been a leading provider of expedited shipping solutions for nearly 100 years, transporting more than one million shipments annually in the United States. Our nationwide network of more than 3,800 locations offers a cost-effective alternative to other ground or air options for same-day and overnight delivery. GPX offers flexibility with shipment weight and size, as well as door-to-door courier service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And with our new user-friendly website, customers can schedule and track shipments directly online, look up the nearest location for convenient shipping and pay bills online. The website also provides service alert updates in the event of delays due to inclement weather. 

AI: How closely does GPX work with industry – such as the automotive industry?
Gipson: GPX works very closely with several industries to provide their shipping needs. For instance, the automotive industry often utilizes GPX to ship car parts, such as bumpers, the medical industry often ships biomedical materials and medical devices, and the tech industry relies on GPX to ship various products as well. AI: What are some of the new services Greyhound plans to offer in the future? Gipson: We will continue to seek opportunities to expand our popular Greyhound Express and BoltBus services into new markets. As the company celebrates its 100th Anniversary, providing a remarkable customer experience has and will remain one of Greyhound’s top priorities  

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