I need to from Tucson to Phoenix and unforchunately the cheapest way to do this is a 2 hour bus ride on Greyhound. The schedule I want also stops in Mesa and I ask and find out from my friend in Tempe that Mesa is much closer and I buy a ticket there (it will also save 20 minutes on the bus ride).
The night before there is great debate at my friends house on where the Greyhound station actually in Tucson – she, nor her parents have ever been there – I look up the address and we figure it out on Google maps. Then of course there is the discussion on the best way to drive there and how early to leave.
We luckily leave way too early and I’m down at the station around 8:30. I wait about ten minutes for the agent to come back, he checks in one passenger before tagging my bag for Mesa and highlighting the departure and arrival times on my 7-eleven receipt ticket. I’m told the bus is running just a few minutes late.
I then walk towards the entrance to the waiting room where a security guard is pacing and waiting. I have to consent to a bag search to take the bus here in Tucson! It’s simple, I unzip the main pocket, my cloths almost falling out he says that’s fine and I drop my bag down in a relatively short line. I say goodbye to friend and the waiting game begins.
Around 8:55 I notice the station filling up a bit and an older driver is now inside. A few minutes later they make an announcement for all continuing passengers to reboard. I head outside and see the bus has puled up in a place that’s nearly impossible to spot from inside the station. I notice its a new and retrofitted bus with wifi and power outlets. I immediately wish I had taken my computer out (that lacks a good battery in its old age) out of my backpack going under the bus to take advantage. At about 9:05 we all get on, I’m towards the back of the line. I get on the bus and head towards the back. It’s just crowded enough to have every seat taken. I realize after everyone else as gotten on that the one set of free seats is the accessible seat at the very front of the bus. I decide to go up there and take it, noticing all the priority seat decals on it like is found on all transit buses. If someone elderly gets on at the Casa Grande Stop I will move.
We leave Tucson 10 minutes down of our 9:00am scheduled departure time and the driver who seems to have a speech impediment. We get on I-10, I put my iPod on and doze off.
About half-way through the trip we get off and take a long street east into the Center of Casa Grande. A man gets up and decides to sit next to me to chat with the driver. He explains he is a retried Greyhound driver, asking me where I’m from and he responds he’s from Newark, NJ. He shows me his 25 years for driving safely right. We soon get to the stop in Casa Grande and a few people get on but no one that is elderly. The retired driver continues sitting next to me to keep chatting with the other driver who is a bit of a buddy. I put my headphones on and here some interesting snippets. The fact there few American drivers are left out of El Paso, there is maybe one other. The retired driver clearly had a checkered past, referring to his border patrol ‘incident.’ They finally complain about the union and how there is so little job security left.
I text my friend when we reach Loop-202 (and get on it), the outer partial beltway around the Phoenix Metro area. It’s an AZ highway route. Phoenix has just two interstates, I-10 and I-17 that starts but lacks any three-digit spur routes, the reason, Phoenix was tiny when the Interstate Highways were mapped back in the 1950s and wasn’t seen as needed any real spurs. The Loop roads have been built using local sales taxes and not the usual federal money.
The bus arrives into Mesa (where I once got stuck when buses were running 1 hour early because of the time change Greyhound didn’t use in its schedule) a few minutes late at 11:08. (scheduled for 11:00) A bunch of people on the bus think were in Phoenix, the bus driver simply screams Mesa a bunch of times to the back I get off the bus and the old driver asks me which bag is mine. He then matches it to my claim check, I walk through the tiny, grimy station and out to the street. There isn’t any sign of my friend (a Roommate in college) and his Accura I assume he’s still driving.
I realize that this strip-mall in Mesa Arizona with just a small sign on the station and no signs at the entrance will be impossible to find and head out to the unnaturally grassy (its Arizona, a desert) strip between the sidewalk and wide Boulevard. A few minutes later a car drives my that is undoubtedly my friend completely missing me waving like mad. I immediately text him and then call, he turns a few blocks around to meet me, apologizing that Google lied on the location of the station,I point out that the station has far too small a sign.
It’s a much shorter drive to his house in Tempe compared to the Phoenix Station last summer when I did a similar trip.