Anyone who has ridden cross-country on a Greyhound bus, and who walked by the bus station on Lamar Street yesterday, would have assumed that the group of protesters gathered there were speaking out against the inhumane conditions suffered by its passengers.
The coach operator is in the midst of a "war on drivers," the union says, replacing experienced operators in Dallas and San Antonio with inferior drivers from the Americanos bus service on the new Greyhound Express line that serves Texas' largest cities.
Americanos is, in fact, owned by Greyhound, but its drivers belong to another union. And they suck, says the ATU, having been cited for serious safety violations and consistently ranking near the bottom in federal driver safety evaluations.
"Many 'Greyhound Express' drivers in Texas are wearing Greyhound uniforms, but are really employed by the company's cut-rate line, Americanos," the ATU says. "Why are they disguising Americanos drivers? To hide poor performance!"
But Greyhound spokeswoman Jen Biddinger says very little is actually changing. The bus line has owned Americanos since 1998 and is rebranding some routes as "Greyhound Express," which means the same Americanos drivers will be driving the same Americanos routes. The only difference will be the racing dog on the side and, again, the buses ultimately belong to Greyhound.
After the bus station, ATU members were scheduled to go to Greyhound's headquarters at 350 N. St. Paul St. for another protest. Which would be a good idea had the bus line not moved its headquarters to Cincinnati about five years ago, as Biddinger told me. Most of the operations are in Dallas, but the actual headquarters? About 1,000 miles away.