July 28, 2014 -- Riding the bus is cool. Or, at least, that's what Greyhound, the country's largest intercity bus transportation provider, is on a mission to prove.
Having celebrated its 100th birthday in May, the company has completely refurbished its fleet of approximately 1,200 vehicles, adding new leather seats, more legroom and digital offerings, such as power outlets and Wi-Fi, in a bid to appeal to a multi-tasking, mega-social millennial ridership.
"We’ve received a great deal of positive feedback, especially when it comes to the on-board amenities, convenience, frequency and environmental stewardship," said Greyhound CEO Dave Leach. "They understand the social impact of public transportation."
According to a study conducted by the American Public Transportation Association in 2012 and 2013, millennials travel often, using multiple modes of transportation and are motivated by affordable cost and convenience.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also prefer to socialize online or work remotely during their journey.
"Millennial customers enjoy the ability to keep in touch with friends on social media and they are now able to share their experience with friends and loved ones in real-time as they travel [on Greyhound]," he said. "Young professionals on a budget also love that they can be productive and work while they travel. They can get ahead on a company project or answer emails during their journey."
Greyhound isn't just seeking to connect riders with their online communities, however. It also wants to become a part of them.
"We are introducing technology that will allow us to have a more intimate relationship with our customers, providing services and features that are important to them, and better engagement with our brand," said Leach, alluding to an app currently in development that would offer service updates in real time similar to airlines and Amtrak trains.
Rider security has also been updated in recent years. Modern strategies include random passenger screenings, enhanced driver training, a surveillance system called DriveCam that captures video both inside and outside the bus, and an on-board GPS communications system that allows the company to remotely shut down a vehicle in an emergency.
"Safety is our core value at Greyhound, and it is ingrained throughout our business," said Leach, adding that there is now a zero-tolerance stance on aggressive behavior.
As the centennial celebrations continue throughout the year, vintage buses are on view and a mobile museum is making its way through 40 cities with various memorabilia.
"We’re excited to celebrate our 100th anniversary this year and be among an elite group of brands that have withstood the test of time," he said.