Bus stopped: Greyhound ends nearby service
For many years, central Virginia residents watched a ticket to the rest of America roll into their town in the form of a daily Greyhound bus. But on August 16, the familiar silver, red, and blue vehicles left the stations in 21 Virginia towns for the last time. Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Lovingston, Orange, and Warrenton won't be visited by the big bus anymore.
This pullout comes as a result of Greyhound's decision to cancel the local route between Roanoke and Washington, D.C. as part of a national restructuring. According to Greyhound spokesperson Anna Folmnsbee, it's all in an effort to better meet customer demand.
"We asked our customers, and they wanted faster service and fewer stops, so we're streamlining our network," she says.
For Greyhound, that meant discontinuing the stops with the fewest customers– and many Virginia stops fell into that category. In 2004, Waynesboro had a total of 730 inbound and outbound passengers; Orange 486; and Lovingston a mere 117 travelers.
In contrast, approximately 197,000 Greyhound passengers passed through the Charlottesville station, and that number could very well rise in 2005, as the move makes Charlottesville one of only a few places in Virginia where folks can catch a bus to a major U.S. city. As of this week, Greyhound offered trips from Charlottesville to Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Memphis, and Dallas, among others.
The discontinuation of the local Roanoke-to-Washington route could also be a boon for the Charlottesville-based Starlight Express. Offering weekly nonstop trips to New York aboard buses that boast luxury accommodations, the fledgling service already attracts a fair number of Valley customers. Starlight's co-owner David New says Greyhound's decision can only help his business. "It gives an opportunity for small independent outfits like us," he says. "It's happening all over the country– breaks one guy, makes another."