Recent news regarding a bus breakdown in Thousand Palms, California, has left many travelers re-thinking whether or not to travel via charter bus. This past Sunday June 15th, a bus owned and run by El Paso Bus Ridebroke down unexpectedly, leaving passengers stranded on the side of the road for nine hours in the blazing California heat. It appears that the breakdown was a result of a transmission problem and was not necessarily something that El Paso Bus Ride could have prevented, but the event now has many people wondering if bus lines should be regulated in order to secure passengers’ safety.
El Paso neglected to comment when approached by a local news station but Greyhound Lines took advantage of the situation, and Greyhound VP Myron Watkins stated that the company has regulations in place to protect passengers in the event of a bus breakdown. These regulations would include moving the bus itself, if possible, to a safe location and ideally finding an establishment that could provide food and drinks for the passengers. When the local news source interviewed passengers at a downtown El Paso bus terminal, the general consensus regarding a breakdown was that bus lines should consider the comfort of the passengers while making every attempt to get the passengers moving again.
Although the El Paso breakdown is generating some negative feelings about travelling via charter bus, it is giving both passengers and bus companies an opportunity to examine all of the positive aspects of buses while recognizing that not all bus companies operate in the same way. The El Paso news source reporting on the breakdown specifically urges passengers to research the passenger policies of various bus lines before buying a ticket, as policies vary from company to company.
Recent data also shows that charter buses are not only the safest vehicles on the road overall, but they are more energy efficient than commuter rail lines, domestic air carriers, and single passenger automobiles with respect to passenger MPG. The American Bus Association’s 2013 Motorcoach Census reports that the average motorcoach bus in 2012 provided over 16,000 passenger trips and traveled close to 2 million passenger miles. Although the recent El Paso breakdown seems to instill some doubt in potential bus passengers, it’s important to remember that this particular event is not the norm for bus companies.