Greyhound Lines

From Academic Kids

Greyhound Lines is the largest intercity common carrier of passengers by bus in North America, serving 2200 destinations in the United States. It was founded in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1914. Its famous name and its logo are based on the Greyhound, the fastest breed of dog used in dog racing. The running dog logo is one of the most recognized trademarks in the world.
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Eastern Greyhound Lines of Ohio, Yellow Coach, photo credit Redden Archives

Today's Greyhound is the result of nearly a century of expansion and acquisition. The company has been headquartered in Hibbing and Duluth, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chicago, Illinois, Phoenix, Arizona, and now Dallas, Texas. Greyhound Lines grew so quickly in the 1920s and 1930s that the Interstate Commerce Commission encouraged smaller independent operators to form the National Trailways Bus System (NTBS) to provide competitive markets. Unlike Greyhound which centralized ownership, Trailways member companies became a formidable competitor while staying an association of almost 100 separate companies.

After World War II, and the building of the Interstate Highway System beginning in 1956, automobile ownership and travel became a preferred mode of travel in the United States. Along with a similar downward trend in public transportation in general, ridership on Greyhound and Trailways bus routes began a long decline.

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Greyhound's 1954 Scenicruiser was one its most popular buses. Photo credit: Robert Redden, Redden Archives

Greyhound leadership saw the trend, and used the profitable bus operations to invest in other industries. By the 1970s, Greyhound was a large and diversified company, with holdings in everything from the Armour Star meatpacking company to the Dial Soap company, money orders, the MCI bus manufacturing company, and even airliner leasing.

Tragedy stuck on May 9, 1980, when the freighter ship S.S. Summit Venture struck one of the piers on the northbound span of the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, Florida. 1,400 feet of the steel cantilever bridge collapsed, causing a Greyhound bus among other vehicles to plunge 150 feet into the bay. A total of 35 people died.

In late 1984, Greyhound had a very bitter bus driver's strike, with one fatality in Zanesville, Ohio. By the time contract negotiations were due again 3 years later, the bus line had been spun-off from the parent company to new owners, which resulted in Greyhound Lines becoming solely a bus transportation company headed by Fred Currey, a former executive with the largest member of the National Trailways Bus System. The old parent changed its name to Dial, Inc.

Under the new ownership in 1987, led by Currey, Greyhound Lines shortly thereafter acquired the former Continental Trailways company, the largest member of the rival National Trailways Bus System, effectively eliminating a large portion of the bus competition. Although Greyhound negotiated cooperative schedules with Carolina Coach Company and Southeastern Trailways, two of the larger members of the Trailways system, many smaller carriers were effectively forced out of business.

Three years later there was another costly strike. This, combined with the loss of diversification and strength of the former parent company, and labor law violations, forced the company to file for bankruptcy, from which it emerged in the early 1990s. At the same time, Greyhound had to contend with the rise of low-cost airlines like Southwest Airlines which further reduced the market for long-distance intercity bus transportation.

In 1997, Greyhound Lines acquired Carolina Trailways, one of the largest members of the National Trailways Bus System. Though today Carolina Trailways still operates as a brand name, the other independent members of the Trailways System fell into line and began interlining cooperatively with Greyhound. Many diversified into charters and tours or went out of business.

In 1998, Hamilton, Ontario based transportation conglomerate Laidlaw Inc. acquired a majority interest in Greyhound Lines, Inc. (U.S. operations) and Greyhound Lines of Canada, including Carolina Trailways and other Greyhound affiliates.

After incurring heavy losses through its investments in Greyhound Lines and other parts of its diversified business, Laidlaw Inc. filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in June 2001.

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Late model Greyhound Lines Bus with seating for 55 passengers. Photo credit: Robert Redden, Redden Archives

Naperville, IL based Laidlaw International, Inc. listed its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange (Ticker: LI), on February 10, 2003, and emerged from reorganization on June 23, 2003 as the successor to Laidlaw Inc.

During 2004, Greyhound Lines announced major schedule reductions in its route system, particularly in the northwest and north central United States, and elimination of some long-distance routes. During the past few years, Greyhound Lines has been expanding its charter and sightseeing services, and is the largest operator of Gray Line Sightseeing Tours franchises in major markets.

Today's Greyhound in the United States and Canada is not as large or robust as it was at its peak, but it still fills an important niche.

In Australia, the primary long-distance bus carrier is Greyhound Pioneer Australia, a company which is not related to the North American Greyhound bus operations.

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