Greyhound, currently the only national intercity bus operator in the United States, traces its history to the Mesaba Transportation Company, an operation of Carl Wickman, who owned a 7-seat Hupmobile and charged 15 cents one-way or 25 cents round trip for trips between Alice and Hibbing, Minnesota in 1914.
Within a few years, Wickman had expanded his system and began buying up other small bus lines; meanwhile, another Minnesota man, Orville Caesar, was doing the same thing. In 1922, Wickman and Caesar merged their bus empire into the Motor Transit Corporation.
At the time, one of the most common intercity buses on the road was the 28-seat Safety Coach. Long, skinny, and painted gray, it was popularly called "the greyhound." Motor Transit allied with two West Coast bus lines in 1926, officially becoming the Northland Transportation Corporation, but unofficially becoming known as "the Greyhound Lines," using a running greyhound as its logo to capitalize on the nickname of the bus model. In 1930, the company's name became the Greyhound Corporation.
During the Great Depression, Greyhound manages to survive by selling off some subsidiary lines, and through such promotions as product placement in the movie "It Happened One Night" and status as the official transportation company of Chicago's 1933 World's Fair.
Ridership boomed during World War II due to gasoline rationing and other restrictions on use of private automobiles. Once the war ended, ridership declined, mainly due to competition from cars and airplanes, although travel times dropped throughout the 1950s and 1960s thanks to improved roads. Greyhound also introduced its famous, distinctive-looking split-level Scenicruiser bus in 1954, and introduced the advertising slogan "leave the driving to us" in 1956.
In 1970, the Greyhound Corporation bought the Armour-Dial Corporation and began to concentrate more on making potted meat and soap than running buses. 17 years later, in 1987, what was by then known as the Dial Corporation spun off the United States portion of its bus system into a new company, Greyhound Lines, which proceeded to buy its chief competitor, Trailways. Three years later, Greyhound's unionized drivers struck, leading Greyhound Lines to file for bankruptcy. The Chapter 11 reorganization goes through in 1991, and the strike is finally settled in 1993.
In 1999, Greyhound Lines was acquired by Canadian transportation holding company Laidlaw, which had acquired Greyhound Canada from the Dial Corporation two years earlier.
- History at greyhound.com
- Ad*Access at duke.edu
- Greyhound Corporation/Dial Corporation info at corporateaffiliations.com