Greyhound Lines is the largest intercity common carrier of passengers by bus in North America, serving 2200 destinations in the United States. It was founded in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1914. Its famous name and its logo are based on the Greyhound, the fastest breed of dog used in dog racing. The running dog logo is one of the most recognized trademarks in the world.
Eastern Greyhound Lines of Ohio, Yellow Coach, photo credit Redden Archives
Today's Greyhound is the result of nearly a century of expansion and acquisition. The company has been headquartered in Hibbing and Duluth, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chicago, Illinois, Phoenix, Arizona, and now Dallas, Texas. Greyhound Lines grew so quickly in the 1920s and 1930s that the Interstate Commerce Commission encouraged smaller independent operators to form the National Trailways Bus System (NTBS) to provide competitive markets. Unlike Greyhound which centralized ownership, Trailways member companies became a formidable competitor while staying an association of almost 100 separate companies.
After World War II, and the building of the Interstate Highway System beginning in 1956, automobile ownership and travel became a preferred mode of travel in the United States. Along with a similar downward trend in public transportation in general, ridership on Greyhound and Trailways bus routes began a long decline.
Greyhound's 1954 Scenicruiser was one its most popular buses. Photo credit: Robert Redden, Redden Archives
Greyhound leadership saw the trend, and used the profitable bus operations to invested in other industries. By the 1970s, Greyhound was a large and diversified company, with holdings in everything from Armour Star meatpacking to Dial Soap, money orders, bus manufacturing, and even airliner leasing.
In late 1984, Greyhound had a very bitter bus driver's strike, with one fatality in Zanesville, Ohio. By the time contract negotiations were due again 3 years later, the bus line had been spun-off from the parent company to new owners, which resulted in Greyhound Lines becoming solely a bus transportation company headed by Fred Currey, a former Trailways executive. Under the new ownership in 1987, Greyhound shortly thereafter acquired the former Continental Trailways company, the largest member of the rival National Trailways Bus System, effectively eliminating a large portion of the bus competition.
The company went another very bitter and costly strike and was forced to file for bankruptcy. In the early 1990s, Greyhound Lines emerged from the bankruptcy. It acquired Carolina Coach Company, which operated as Carolina Trailways, another large member of the National Trailways Bus System. (Today, although it is a Greyhound subsidiary, Carolina Coach is still operating under the Trailways banner).
Other independent members of the Trailways System operating common carrier route service mostly interline cooperatively with Greyhound. Many diversified into charters and tours or went out of business.
In 1998, transportation conglomerate Laidlaw Inc. acquired Greyhound Lines, Inc. (U.S. operations) and Greyhound Canada, including Carolina Trailways and other Greyhound affiliates.
After incurring heavy losses through its investments in Greyhound Lines and other parts of its diversified business, Laidlaw Inc. filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in June 2001.
Late model Greyhound Lines Bus with seating for 55 passengers. Photo credit: Robert Redden, Redden Archives
Laidlaw International, Inc. listed its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange (Ticker: LI), on February 10, 2003, and emerged from reorganization on June 23, 2003 as the successor to Laidlaw Inc.
During 2004, Greyhound Lines announced major schedule reductions in its northwestern United States route system, and elimination of some long-distance routes. During the past few years, Greyhound Lines has been expanding its charter and sightseeing services, and is the largest operator of Gray Line Sightseeing Tours franchises in major markets.
Today's Greyhound in the United States and Canada is not as large or robust as it was at its peak, but it still fills an important niche.
In Australia, the primary long-distance bus carrier is Greyhound Pioneer Australia, a company which is not related to the North American Greyhound bus operations.