SunsetLimited
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Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Sun Sep 20, 2015 2:33 pm


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It's been a few years since I made a long-haul Greyhound trip, and to be honest I wasn't even thinking about it until I got an email from Greyhound saying I needed to use my rewards points soon or they would be canceled. I only had a 25% discount, but since I've been infected with the travel bug for 36 years now, I figured I might as well not let that go to waste. So, I decided upon schedule 1262 which is the local run from Houston to Miami via New Orleans and a bunch of other cities. The fare with the discount: $40. Sold. I decided to fly back on AA since I figured 24 hours on a bus would be long enough. They had a really good one-way fare on their 1830 departure, operated by American Eagle. When I got to Miami, the plan was to get a day room at the MIA airport hotel, so I could freshen up and relax. I must say, everything went off without a hitch. Below you'll find a stop-by-stop travelogue of the bus ride. Pictures are posted after that. At the end I'll talk about the flight for a bit, but relize the main focus of this report is the journey on Greyhound, so if that doesn't interest you, feel free to find some other generic report about a flying F with a thousand pictures of the food served and menu card to read.  

New Orleans, LA 7:30a

I arrived at Union Passenger Terminal at 6:30a for the scheduled 7:30 departure. The station was fairly busy with a long line waiting to board Amtrak's 7:00a “Crescent”, plus passengers waiting for Megabus and Greyhound. Using the bus tracker on Greyhound's app, I saw that my bus was arriving from Houston around 6:50, so I lined up to be the first one to board around 6:45. The bus arrived at 6:52, and boarding started about 7:15. There were a large number of passengers re-boarding, so by the time I got on board, there were not many seats left. I think I managed to snag the only remaining open pair of seats. Departed on time at 7:30 with the seat next to me open.

Slidell, LA 8:20a

This was a quick stop at a Texaco station. Three passengers got off, none got on. Greyhound used to have its own station on Gause Blvd in old town Slidell, but once they cut back service here around several years ago, the building was not needed for the amount of service it saw.

Gulfport, MS 9:15a – 9:52a

The GPT stop is at a Shell station right off I-10 next to the Tanger outlet center. I stepped off here for a quick stretch. Back on board, I was told I had to move seats because I was actually sitting next to the wheelchair lift, and there was a wheelchair passenger who was going to be boarding. So, I moved to the back, and again found the only open pair of seats right in front of the bathroom. Departed GPT at 9:52.

Biloxi, MS 10:09a – 10:20a

The Biloxi stop is across the street from the old train station, and only about 2 blocks away from the beach and Beau Rivage casino. Several passengers boarded here, filling up all remaining seats except the one next to me. Score.

Mobile, AL 11:25a – 12:01p

Since we were running 15 minutes late, we would have 15 less minutes for our layover. Everyone had to get off the bus here, and they gave all passengers who were continuing east a re-boarding pass, so they could board the bus before new passengers joined. I went inside and bought a ham/cheese sandwich and a drink from the Greyhound owned and operated restaurant. They called for re-boarding at 11:50a after the bus was cleaned and serviced. We departed at 12:01 with a very nice bus drive from Ireland.

Pensacola, FL 1:05p – 1:22p

A couple of folks got off here, and a couple of more got on. Seat next to me still empty. Greyhound has been doing away with stations they own in many smaller cities around the country to save on costs and instead stopping at large gas stations/convenience stores next the interstate, but Pensacola still has its own Greyhound terminal, even though it only sees a handful of buses a day. Departed PNS at 1:22 and crossed Escambia Bay. Spotted the CSX trestle on the left which I crossed on the Sunset Limited in 2004.

Ft. Walton Beach, FL 2:27p – 2:49p

The drive to Ft. Walton was a scenic one, as we passed the beach side communities of Navarre and Mary Esther. I had vacationed to this area with my family probably 20 or more times growing up, so it was a treat to see it all again, but from a bus this time. Ft. Walton had its own (small) terminal as well. I stepped off here to stretch and take a few pics. Two passengers got off, and I think one got on. When we departed, I still had an open seat next to me.

Panama City, FL 4:23p – 4:44p

It was a real treat driving over the Destin harbor bridge and through Destin itself on the way to Panama City. Looking at all the boats in the harbor, I instantly thought back to when we would rent pontoon boats for the day in this same location. Great family memories that I will always cherish. We passed the intersection for Hwy 30A, which runs through the beach side communities of Seaside, Seagrove, etc. The last time I was there was when I was engaged, and a group of us, including my dad, stayed in a condo for a few days. I remember my dad I cooked homemade risotto for everyone. Crossing over the Panama City bay bridge, there was a bunch of people just sitting and walking on the bridge sporting American flags. Random, but cool. Arrived Panama City's nice little Greyhound terminal and hopped off for a bathroom break. Several passengers got off, none got on.

Tallahassee, FL 7:46p – 8:35p

I enjoyed the two-hour drive down rural state highways between Panama and TLH. When we got to TLH proper, we drove right past Florida State University. Man, that strip of road had an incredible amount of restaurants and shops, etc. Students at FSU can never go hungry or bored, I'll tell you that much. This was another meal stop, so I made my way to the restaurant and had a grilled chicken sandwich, fries, and a drink. Was it a tad overpriced at $8.99? Maybe, but it tasted fine. Re-boarding started at 8:15, and by the time the huge line of new customers boarded, I had a seat mate for the first time. But it wasn't so bad. Departed TLH on US 90 in a northeast direction to eventually connect with I-10.

Gainesville, FL 11:14p – 11:23p

To my surprise, there was an actual station building in Gainesville, and it seemed to be quite a ways off the interstate, so I got to see more of the city of Gainesville than I ever had before. About four people boarded here and took up all 4 remaining seats on the bus. As soon as we departed, the station agent shut the lights off, locked the doors, and headed home for the night. Departing Gainesville, we passed a bunch of college bars and clubs which were packed with people. Probably all UF students.

Ocala, FL 11:59p – 12:36a

This was the only rest stop between TLH and Orlando. It was at a Pilot truck stop with an attached Arby's. This was my seat matte's stop. I took a stroll into the convenience store portion (not the Arby's, hate those places) to grab a Diet Mt Dew and to get the blood flowing. I was not uncomfortable on the bus, but every now and then being able to walk around a bit helps out a lot. Two passengers got on here, one of whom took the empty seat next to me. But again, no big deal, she was a small, older lady who seemed pleasant enough.

Orlando, FL 1:51a – 3:00a

I slept the entire way until the drive turned on the lights and made our arrival announcement five minutes from the Orlando terminal. Everyone had to get off here since this was a service stop for the bus. The Orlando station was huge, and pretty nice. Plenty of seating, large restaurant, and I liked the layout. I honestly spent the hour here standing up watching highlights of the Broncos game and checking out the brochure rack in the station. I also took a stroll to see what kind of gifts they had in the small gift shop. The bus bank was tempting since I have an older model from the 1980's, but I passed. Next time. Re-boarding started at 2:40a. On time departure at 3:00a. Full bus, every seat occupied.

Ft. Pierce, FL 4:52a – 5:13a

I barely remember this stop, but it was at another truck stop/travel plaza. This was the only full fledged rest stop until the end of the line in Miami. I was thinking about stepping off, but the girl next to me was sound alseep, and I didn't feel like waking her. So I quickly fell back asleep, and didn't wake up until we approached our next stop.

West Palm Beach, FL 6:13a

I awoke to visions of palm trees and high rise condo towers fly past my window as we made our way to downtown Palm Beach. The station was actually connected to the Amtrak and Tri-Rail station, and I spotted a Tri-Rail train loading up for Miami. We were only here for a few minutes, and about six or so passengers got off, including the girl next to me. Sweet. I would have two seats all the way to MIA.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL 7:00a – 7:23a

I again fell asleep once we left Palm Beach, and awoke with the arrival annoucement into Ft. Lauderdale. The station seems to be in a pretty good location, just a couple of blocks from the beach, pretty much in the downtown core. At least ten passengers left the bus here. I made it a point to stay awake from here on out, passing many maritime-related businesses on the way back to the interstate, and more than a few high end restaurants and stores.

Miami North, FL 7:50a – 8:04a

This is a suburban stop at a huge park and ride facility. Again, Greyhound has its own terminal here, albeit a small, old one. Several more passengers got off, so we were pretty much half full when we left. There was a bus next to us going to Tallahassee. Different model, though – it was one of the new Prevost buses, compared to the older MCI model from 2000 that I was on. Departed at 8:04.

Miami, FL 8:20a

Arrived at our final stop at the new Miami Central Station (which is home to Amtrak, Tri-Rail, Metrorail, Metrobus, Greyhound, Megabus, and is connected to the airport by a free train) only five minute behind schedule, thus concluding a grand adventure on the highways and byways of America.

----------------PICTURES---------------

The new Megabus seating area at New Orleans Union Passenger terminal. Amtrak is on the left, and Greyhound is to the right.

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Mobile, AL

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End of the line. Miami Central Station.

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-----------Layover -------------

I checked in to my room at the Miami Airport Hotel just about 10 minutes after I stepped off the bus. The new Miami Central Station is really nice and super convenient for inter-modal connectivity. After taking a shower and sleeping for a few hours, I ordered some room service, since the restaurant on the top floor of the hotel was not open during lunch hours. I remember eating in that restaurant with my dad in 1997, when we flew Pan Am 2 from MDW to MIA. It had a great view of the field. Anyway, I checked out of the room at 5, and made my way to gate D60 (the lower level
Eagle boarding area) to wait for my flight to board.

9-18-15
American Eagle 4451
MIA-MSY
E-175
Dep: 1830 (actual 1847)
Arr: 1939 (actual 1949)

Really the one unique fact about this flight was that I got absolutely soaked when boarding the plane, since boarding took place during a nice tropical downpour, which made the outdoor covered walkway to the aircraft highly ineffective. Also, the covered ramp leading to the plane itself had some leaks, so everyone was pretty much drenched by the time they stepped on board the aircraft. It was...interesting. Too bad they don't have jetways for all gates, even Eagle, as some airports do. Not enough space, perhaps. The flight itself was fine, typical domestic service, but I appreciate the full can of soda offered. It was a scenic flight as we followed the gulf coast the entire way. At one point, I saw Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, and Pensacola out my window at the same time. Just a great view. We made a smooth approach into MSY runway 1, and parked at gate C-10.


Thanks for reading!
Spread hope like fire.
 
visualapproach
Posts: 214
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:09 pm

RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:52 pm

Have to admire you for spending that long on a coach! $40 is a complete bargain, although I'm not sure I could do it myself.. much prefer the comforts of a roomette on Amtrak if I'm not going to fly.

How are Greyhound doing financially? I work for their parent company over here in the UK.
 
dfwjim1
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Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:46 pm

RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Sun Sep 20, 2015 10:15 pm

Great trip report and pictures! My wife and I keep talking about trying Greyhound sometime as we have not traveled by
bus in a long time. I live in the Fort Lauderdale area and I did not realize the new train station at MIA had opened. Going to have
to check it out.
 
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jaybird
Posts: 361
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:40 pm

Great report! Loved reading about Greyhound and seeing all the pictures - well done - thanks!
 
SaschaYHZ
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:01 am

Interesting report...I've always wondered, if on a longer journey (say cross country) are there opportunities to shower in some of the larger terminals?
 
WearyDrover
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:29 am

What a wonderful story. So different from what is usually posted. A real marathon, the longest I've ever spent on a coach is nine hours, quite short in comparison. From the photos it looks as if there is no W.C. on board. Would that be right?

But this is an aviation site so where are the photos of the the E175? Only kidding.  

After so long on the coach and then getting drenched, it's not surprising that you might not feel like writing about a routine flight.
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes
 
SunsetLimited
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 3:02 am

Quoting visualapproach (Reply 1):
much prefer the comforts of a roomette on Amtrak if I'm not going to fly.

That's my favorite way to go if I'm not flying, as well.

Quoting visualapproach (Reply 1):
How are Greyhound doing financially?

I really don't know, to be honest. I know they have been spending a lot of money upgrading their fleet and their stations.

Quoting SaschaYHZ (Reply 4):
I've always wondered, if on a longer journey (say cross country) are there opportunities to shower in some of the larger terminals?

No, there aren't showers available. That was part of the reason I decided to get a room for the day in MIA. By the time I arrived, I was ready for one. But like riding coach on a train long distance, there are things you can do to stay relatively fresh.

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 5):
From the photos it looks as if there is no W.C. on board. Would that be right?

There is one at the very back, you just can't tell from the pictures.

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 5):
But this is an aviation site so where are the photos of the the E175? Only kidding.

I had one or two but they didn't come out all that great. Besides I'm sure everyone knows what an E75 looks like.  
Spread hope like fire.
 
PresRDC
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 3:47 am

Interesting and unique report. Could you buy two tickets and be guaranteed two seats to yourself? Even at $80 it would still be cheap.
 
usflyer msp
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:43 am

You are braver than me. I could never take a greyhound bus for more than a few hours. The buses are mechanically fine but I would probably have trouble dealing with the other passengers. The sketch reputation of Greyhound passengers is well known...
 
SunsetLimited
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:27 pm

Quoting PresRDC (Reply 7):
Could you buy two tickets and be guaranteed two seats to yourself?

I don't really know if that's possible. I will say this...it's pretty easy to get comfortable when you have two seats. It's not horrible with one seat (pretty comparable to Y class on airlines, but with about 34 inch pitch), but two helps out a lot.

Quoting USFlyer MSP (Reply 8):
You are braver than me. I could never take a greyhound bus for more than a few hours. The buses are mechanically fine but I would probably have trouble dealing with the other passengers. The sketch reputation of Greyhound passengers is well known...

Yeah, you usually do see a few sketchy people along the way, but not that many. No one bothered me on the bus or in the stations. Mostly, it's just people trying to get from point A to point B.
Spread hope like fire.
 
usflyer msp
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:35 pm

Quoting SunsetLimited (Reply 9):
I don't really know if that's possible. I will say this...it's pretty easy to get comfortable when you have two seats. It's not horrible with one seat (pretty comparable to Y class on airlines, but with about 34 inch pitch), but two helps out a lot.

I don't think Greyhound has guaranteed seating so buying two seats does not mean you will actually get two seats...
 
richierich
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:13 pm

Loved this report - something very different. It also speaks to the kind of adventure I would take if I could find the time...A 24-hour ride on the bus is a humbling experience that everybody should do once in their life. There is something about seeing America by road, and the bus provides an experience that you just don't get by driving yourself and certainly not by flying. In many ways, the best way to appreciate Y-class economy in airline service is to have to take Greyhound long-distance somewhere.

Thanks for posting this unique trip report.
None shall pass!!!!
 
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ATA L1011
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:03 am

Quoting richierich (Reply 11):
Loved this report - something very different. It also speaks to the kind of adventure I would take if I could find the time...A 24-hour ride on the bus is a humbling experience that everybody should do once in their life. There is something about seeing America by road, and the bus provides an experience that you just don't get by driving yourself and certainly not by flying. In many ways, the best way to appreciate Y-class economy in airline service is to have to take Greyhound long-distance somewhere.

Thanks for posting this unique trip report.

I agree  
Treat others as you expect to be treated!
 
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tjcab
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Tue Sep 22, 2015 3:04 am

Nice and different report. Now, why are Greyhound buses so "Old School" and meager in the US (generally north America). The are quite nice and modern on South Africa and U.K.
 
starrymarkb
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:20 am

UK Greyhound is now more, the buses are now found doing rail replacements in SW England* after First lost interest (as they do with a lot of ideas) and in the face of heavy competition from National Express and Megabus.
 
EL-AL
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:59 pm

Hey Mate,

Thank you for the report. Look like you had quite a ride, I must say that for me 12 hours is the maximum time I can spend on a bus, because I can't sleep sitting down. I did used Greyhound myself a year ago, driving from Harrisburg PA to Washington DC, and I was very much impressed from the comfort and good service.

Thx for shearing!
every day is a good day to fly
 
Stratofish
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:01 pm

Thanx for taking the time to post. I always love reading something different! Especially since I am kind of intrepid traveller myself.

Have taken Greyhound in the US and Canada (YVR to YUL) myself and it is a great way to travel if time is no issue and you are a wary person. Yes, you do occasionally run into less desirables from time to time, same as on any flight nowadays.
The Metro might be the Sub(optimal)way
 
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longhauler
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:45 pm

Cool and unusual report ... thanks for posting it.

Quoting SunsetLimited (Reply 6):

That's my favorite way to go if I'm not flying, as well.

I had to figure that with your name!

I recently took VIA Rail from YYZ-YVR-YYZ. Prestige class was about the same as RT J on AC and a magnificient way to spend 3 1/2 days (each way).
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
SunsetLimited
Topic Author
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RE: Greyhound Bus: New Orleans - Miami / AA MIA-MSY

Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:44 am

Thanks for the feedback you guys. In the end, it's not a horrible way to travel if, as some of you said, you have the time and are okay with the idea of bus travel itself. For me, the journey is just as important as the destination in most cases, so I had a fun time all in all. Today's Greyhound certainly is a far cry from the Greyhound I took with my grandparents to Biloxi and Baton Rouge as a kid.
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