Thousands Line Up In Festive Crowds For Special Greyhound Fare
Undated (AP) _ The young, the old and the in-between lined up by the thousands Wednesday in festive crowds at bus stations in 12 Southern cities to buy 59 cent tickets to Ohio, California, Iowa, New York, Walt Disney World and anywhere else that Greyhound buses go.
″Can’t beat it for $1.18,″ said Jim Edwards, who got on line in Atlanta at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to buy a round-trip ticket to San Francisco.
The 59-cent promotional fares went on sale at noon Wednesday at Greyhound stations in Atlanta; Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; Birmingham, Ala.; and Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas.
The sale ended at 1 p.m., but everyone on line by then qualified to buy two tickets good for travel between March 6 and April 5.
Greyhound managers pre-printed tickets, hired extra security, assigned speedy sales agents and gathered thousands of pennies to make change.
Lines stretched around and through bus terminals and the sale stretched into the afternoon as agents tried to accommodate the rush.
At least 3,000 people, three times as many as expected, sought the 59-cent tickets in Nashville.
″And Custer thought he had it bad,″ mused Greyhound charter sales manager David Fountain as he watched the crowd balloon. At the head of the line were Clifford Brown and five friends who arrived at 3 a.m. Wednesday in a limousine from Cincinnati to buy tickets to Miami and San Francisco.
″We figured we’d save $1,000 this way,″ said Brown.
″I didn’t get any sleep,″ said Mylinda Pearson, 32, first in a line of 2,500 to 3,000 people in Atlanta. She arrived at 11 a.m. Tuesday with her son, Nicholas, seeking tickets to Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla.
″I feel kind of fine,″ said Nicholas, 5, sporting a blue Mickey Mouse sweatshirt.
In New Orleans, sales manager Dan Dismukes said he ordered 1,800 pennies and made sure the terminal’s best agents were at the windows. About 2,000 people waited in a line that spilled throughout the terminal, forcing officials to hand out rainchecks to reduce the confusion.
Orlando manager Don Hutsell said a crowd approaching 1,000 had gathered as the sale approached.
″We’ve got the young, the old and the in-between,″ said Hutsell. The crowd was ″sort of a real casual, people talking to one another, talking about everything imaginable, a party-type atmosphere.″
Greyhound officials were prepared to sell 2,000 tickets in Dallas and 1,500 in Fort Worth. In Houston, hundreds were lined up peacefully. In Atlanta, director of marketing Shaun Crawley said the station was processing about 500 tickets an hour.
Traffic around the terminal was snarled, but Crawley said there were no incidents. ″Evidently people will put up with staying in line for a while to get a great bargain,″ he said.
″We went down the line at 1 p.m. and gave everybody in line a theater-type ticket so they could buy a bus ticket,″ said Jim Ferguson, a Greyhound official in Birmingham, Ala., where 1,800 people arrived.
In Miami, ticket agent Charles Benjamin said he had no idea how many people were in line because he couldn’t see the end of it when he stepped outside.
″People want to go to New York, Chicago, California, Atlanta, anywhere that Greyhound goes,″ he said, nearly shouting to be heard over the background noise in a telephone interview.
Carlos Rodriguez, Miami terminal manager, estimated 2,500 of the bargain tickets would be sold.
An erroneous broadcast news report caused disappointment in the New York area. Don Phillips, a ticket agent in Newark, N.J., said the station was crowded with people who wanted to take advantage of the offer, which was good only at the 12 cities in the South.
″We’ve been going crazy,″ he said. ″We tell them that it was an error and show them the Greyhound bulletin. People are pretty much satisfied.″
Frances Henry of Nashville said she got in line at 11 a.m. Wednesday , and in 15 minutes another 200 people had queued up behind her.
″I figure I’m going to draw my Social Security check while I’m waiting here,″ she said. The retired tour guide plans to go round trip to Escondido, Calif., for $1.18.
She said she enjoyed bus travel and had taken advantage of other Greyhound specials. ″They say traveling broadens you,″ she laughed, with a pat on her behind.