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Terminal Velocity

March 14, 2004|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

Planes, trains and automobiles may be preferred transportation for some, but for long trips on a budget, you can leave the driving to Greyhound. Life on the bus can be monotonous or fun, depending on the passenger beside you. Every day 36 buses arrive and depart from the Greyhound bus terminal on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. We asked some riders if the road takes a toll.

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Kyle Lewis

29, Tampa, Fla.

Drummer

Where are you arriving from?

Tampa.

Why are you here in L.A.?

I'm not a big-time drummer. I travel and play. Everybody comes out here with that dream, to hook up with a band and get going.

Strangest person on the bus?

Probably the guy who slept on the floor the whole time. He kept swatting at flies that weren't there.

What were your drivers like?

The ones who make it more interesting are when you go past a landmark they'll name it. There was this lady in Arizona who was kind of kooky. She was fun. She mentioned how she's losing her mind from driving. She was kidding.

Describe the bus ride from hell.

From Maine to Phoenix in the middle of the winter. The bus was filled with homeless people. They were all coming from Cleveland.

Weirdest bus moment?

A guy and a girl had an intimate encounter in the back of the bus late at night when the lights were out. It wasn't on this trip.

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Jessica Xu

20, Shanghai/ Westwood

Psychology student at UCLA

Where are you going today?

San Diego, for the weekend.

Strangest passenger you've seen?

Once, with my boyfriend, there was a guy behind us. When everyone would get on the bus he would say, "Careful." When everyone would get off he'd say, "Careful."

Is there a bus-driver personality?

It's different for different countries. In New Zealand they will say, "Hey, can I help you?" They're enthusiastic. But people in New Zealand are more enthusiastic anyway.

Describe the bus ride from hell.

Westwood to LAX. It's bumpy and fast. I throw up right after I get off.

Do you meet other passengers?

My boyfriend and I sometimes don't sit together. He needs to make sure where we get off, and I need to make sure I don't get motion sickness. People in America give name cards. They give my boyfriend a phone number or e-mail. He likes to talk to strangers. For me, it depends.

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Mark McKay

22, Belfast, Ireland

Student and tourist

Where are you arriving from?

Las Vegas.

Strangest passenger?

This woman with a really high forehead and pigtails coming out in a really weird way, like two to the side and one to the back. She'd sort of stare at people.

What was your bus driver like?

Talked a bit much. He was all right.

What did he talk about?

"You can get out here and stretch your lungs," you know, for people who are smoking, which was quite funny, but he said it every single time.

Is there a bus-driver personality?

They're people who think they're comedians. They've got a big audience on the bus.

Did you talk to other passengers?

One guy told me about his girlfriend. But she's not really his girlfriend, 'cause she's going to South Africa. I was like, "Oh, really." It was too much information.

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Harvey Sachartof

63, San Francisco

Homeless

Where are you arriving from?

San Francisco. I'm passing through. I've been on this route 150 times.

Strangest rider you've seen?

One time from L.A. to San Francisco, there was a person I would call a real mental patient. He started to walk up and down the aisles, stabbing everyone with a pencil. So we sat on him the whole trip.

What are the drivers like?

Most Greyhound drivers are very nice. Every time they stop they get free lunch. Most are obese. You can quote me on that.

Describe the bus ride from hell.

Going up to Coalinga junction, the bus driver had a seizure. I ran to turn the wheel to the side. We were outside in 120-degree heat and the bus was on fire.

How do people pass the time?

I read the Las Vegas gambling paper, which is in bus stops across the country encouraging gambling.

Strangest thing you've seen?

I've seen everything on a Greyhound. I've seen mating, I've seen wild women in Knoxville, Tenn. Nothing too terrible. The Greyhound is kind of like the prison bus. You've got to watch your behavior.

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