Thursday, July 31, 2008

I don't think I'll be riding Greyhound anytime soon...

When I was 18 and 19, I rode the Greyhound bus all over North America - to every corner of Canada, the USA, and Mexico. I spent a total of six months touring these countries, and while I can agree that Greyhound does cater to the "interesting" realm of society and the co-riders aren't always the most normal people you could encounter, I never really had any problems with crime, or in this case, murder.

I was planning a trip to Florida soon, thinking of riding Greyhound down (a 30 hour drive), but I think I'll take a plane, instead.

Canada's CTV news broke a story today about a Greyhound bus travelling to Winnipeg, Manitoba (the same bus which I've rode countless (at least 40) times in my life) on which a murder took place. In the middle of the night, one teenager attacked another (who was sleeping), repeatedly stabbing him in the neck and then decapitating him.

I have not heard a story this morose and depressing in a long time. This level of psychosis is something usually only seen in movies. To think I could have easily been a passenger on this bus and witnessed this is beyond belief. The attack does appear to be targeted, though (the attacker let everyone off of the bus without harming them, so I'm assuming this was to settle a score).

To read more about this story/watch the news clip, check it out here and here.

I'd expect (well, I'd strongly hope) that Greyhound will re-work its security (it has none) and have passengers go through X-Ray and metal detection devices before boarding. If buses were treated the same as planes, an attack like this would have been impossible.

Just my two cents, but I do think the bus is one of the most unsafe forms of travel.


Anonymous said...

This is a senseless tragedy, particularly disturbing given the manner and severity of the attack, but I'm not so sure the fact that it happened to occur on a bus is a fair reflection of bus travel or Greyhound. Buses (or trains) are not airplanes, and while there are sometimes similar threats, each has different security concerns and requirements. For instance, while the hijacking of a plane is a valid concern, generally it is impossible to hijack a train from inside the passenger cars (typically no access to the locomotive cab), and the train can only go where the tracks lead anyway. You might hijack/take over the bus, but unlike an airplane, it is quite practical for law enforcement to contain and stop a bus.

While Greyhound might implement metal detectors and the like at major terminals, you are never going to be able to do anything of the sort on local or mass-transit bus lines where the 'stop' often consists of a sign along the road (or Greyhound rural stops at a "convenience" store). While someone could get a weapon onboard the bus, they could do so even easier at your local grocery store, McDonald's, or shopping mall where they have easier access (and don't need a ticket - at least the bus offers some security in the form of limited access). Clearly, Greyhound could benefit from improved security at many levels (they might start with some of the stations!), but it needs to be a form of security responsive to the needs of an intercity bus network.

Now, while my first recommendation for intercity travel would be Amtrak, I would not hesitate to use Greyhound based solely on this incident any more than I would avoid going to church because there was a shooting at a service last Sunday (in Knoxville, Tennessee).

Dave @ The BRG Blog said...

You have some solid points. I didn't mean to say that I actually think that this would happen to me, personally, if I'd ride the bus in the near future. I know that this type of attack is very rare, but given that I've traveled on this same route before, and that the victim was also in his 20's, it makes one wonder what could happen.

I would like to see some sort of security precaution taken on buses to prevent these types of attacks. Like you said, many stations are in the middle of the country. Even if it involves a bus being built with a metal detector built into the doorway, I'd be happy. But, for now, it's free reign to anyone who wants to carry a weapon on board - and that, no matter how you slice it, is wrong.