DOING GOOD BUS-INESS
People heading places for the holidays often turn to buses, trains and their cars.
Tonja Hirschler, Greyhound’s manager at the 19th Street station in Denver, assists passengers at the ticket counter Thursday, one the busiest traveling days of the year. “Greyhound is a great way to go — you can’t beat it,” she said of the alternative to long lines at the airport. Many travelers are taking buses, trains and their own vehicles to avoid airport hassles this holiday season.
With Denver International Airport teeming with travelers this week, others are finding a way to avoid the long lines and surging prices as they head home for the holidays by bus, train and automobile.
“Greyhound is a great way to go — you can’t beat it,” said Tonja Hirschler, Greyhound’s 19th Street station manager. She wore a red Santa Claus hat Thursday as she cheerfully guided passengers by the arm to their buses.
Some passengers were less convinced.
Ben Heiner, 37, was at the station waiting for his bus amid a ragtag crew of weary travelers and downtown Denver characters. He was traveling back to his home in Salt Lake City from a sixweek rock-climbing vacation in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. It was his second time on a Greyhound bus.
“It’s about as pleasant as a Greyhound ride goes,” he said.
Heiner and other passengers were traveling on Greyhound because it was the cheapest and most convenient option, even if it took more than 24 hours for them to reach their destinations. Greyhound buses stop at more than 3,800 destinations in the U.S., and the company expects to serve more than 850,000 passengers this holiday season.
April Pitts was also less than enthusiastic about riding the bus. She was traveling to Oklahoma to visit her 16-year-old daughter.
“There isn’t a lot of privacy on the bus, and I’m kind of like a magnet to people,” she said.
Amtrak is also expecting a busy season, topping off a strong year. In November, Amtrak announced that 31.3 million people rode its trains in 2016.
“Ridership last year on California Zephyr set an all-time record,” said Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak. That line stops at Denver’s Union Station and trav-
els from Chicago to San Francisco. From Denver, the trip takes about 33 hours and — weather permitting — offers spectacular views. Amtrak’s other train line that runs through Colorado, the Southwest Chief, stops in Trinidad, Lamar and La Junta and ends in Los Angeles. Amtrak offers bus transportation from Denver to the Southwest Chief stations and up to 150 pounds of free checked baggage.
Most travelers — about 93 million people — this season will drive to their destinations, said Wave Drehler, director of communications for AAA Colorado. She offered tips for those who choose to drive.
“Before you take off for your Christmas journey, make sure you did that Christmas maintenance. Have your battery checked, for the cold weather. If you haven’t replaced your wiper blades in a while, now is a good time,” she said.
If you do have to fly and happen to be one of the select few who can afford a same-day $10,000 round-trip fare to Dallas, private charter companies such as Colorado by Air offer trips from DIA and other airports in the state.
The flights are not cheap but can be arranged in under an hour, said John Hightower, owner of Colorado by Air. Roundtrip flights to resort towns such as Steamboat Springs and Eagle can cost travelers $4,200 to $5,000 and include snacks.
“If holiday plans are really important to them and it’s within their budget,” Hightower said, “they should consider private charter.”
Greyhound passengers at the 19th Street station in Denver on Thursday board a bus bound for Salt Lake City.