DO­ING GOOD BUS-INESS

Peo­ple head­ing places for the hol­i­days of­ten turn to buses, trains and their cars.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

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.”

Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

Grey­hound pas­sen­gers at the 19th Street sta­tion in Den­ver on Thurs­day board a bus bound for Salt Lake City.

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