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Greyhound hits the road with new look

From the Associated Press

The old dog is getting a new look.

Greyhound Lines Inc. says it has spent $60 million over the last three years to freshen up its fleet of 1,250 buses and its largest terminals.

Next, the company plans an advertising campaign designed to bring back former customers and attract new riders between 18 and 24 as well as Latinos.

Greyhound executives say the makeover is part of an upgrade that began in 2004, when many small-town stops and routes were eliminated to speed up service between larger cities.

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Patty Herbeck, Greyhound’s director of marketing, said the company had refurbished more than 900 buses with new seats and paint jobs and had spruced up 125 of its about 940 terminals by repainting, renovating restrooms and adding plasma-screen TVs in waiting areas.

Dallas-based Greyhound traces its roots to 1914, when a Swedish immigrant named Carl Eric Wickman charged Minnesota miners 15 cents to ride between Hibbing and Alice. By 1987, it grew into the largest intercity bus line in the country.

In the early 1990s, however, the company went through a three-year labor strike, growing losses and a spin through bankruptcy court. More recently, Greyhound has gone through several changes in leaders and ownership. Since Oct. 1, it’s been a division of FirstGroup, a British bus and rail operator.

Ridership declined after Greyhound eliminated about 1,000 destinations in 2004, although a spokeswoman said sales are up 15% to 20% on the remaining routes. The company carried 19 million passengers last year and had sales of $1.2 billion.

Greyhound hired Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners of Sausalito, Calif., to develop a multimillion-dollar broadcast, print and billboard advertising campaign that begins this week.

The first TV spot shows an old bus pulling into a terminal and the driver disembarking to take a break. An auto-racing pit crew hauls in new seats, paints the bus and changes the driver into his new uniform.


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