Why Can’t We Have Good Buses?

I’ve blogged quite enough about Skybus for now, but I’d like to introduce you to its logical opposite: the ground plane. I’m talking about the luxury bus that the kid and the ‘rents rode from Granada to Madrid.

We saw these buses everywhere in Andalucia – modernistic, high profile, vehicles that reminded me of big bugs because of the way their mirrors hang down like antennae facing the flat front of the bus.



The buses are practically double-deckers, with a clean, full-size bathroom and luggage storage below. The passengers ride on the upper deck, high above the highway, in assigned seats with big windows, movies shown on overhead screens, headphones and two channels of music. The leather seats are wide, with three across instead of the usual four.

The bus also carries an attendant to look after the passengers. During the 6-hour trip from Granada to Madrid, she served pastries with coffee, tea and juice, and later a boxed lunch. The price of the meal was included in the fare.

A bus with food service, entertainment and assigned seats. You can’t get that on many airlines these days.

Yet the cost was in line with bus fares in the United States – 29 euros or about $39 U.S. Regular buses in Spain, without all the amenities, cost about two-thirds as much.

Just about the same time that the kid and the ‘rents were taking this ride, the husband and I were on our way back to Connecticut from JFK on a bus. It was a beat-up, creaky, bumpy, drafty, miserable ride that just plain pummeled the spirit out of us. The comparison, when we all shared notes later, was inescapable.

I know that the economic conditions are different in Spain, with higher gas prices, less crowded highways and a serious train network for competition. But if I could take a 6- hour bus ride for that price, in those conditions, to get from Hartford to Washington or Montreal, I would never drive those routes again.


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