The concept of Greyhound’s new platinum service between Canberra and Sydney is an admirable one. The service is clearly designed for the corporate market wanting to do a full day’s work in Sydney. Those who fly this route regularly, if they have a conscience, will be concerned about their carbon footprint.
I’m guilty myself of flying this route more than I should but I’m aware of the impact that short-haul flights have on the environment and I do try to use the bus whenever I can (Greyhound and Murrays offer regular and reliable services).
It also makes sense to go by bus when you take into account the time spent getting to and from airports, and having to be there at least half an hour before the flight. The trip by plane can become a 3-hour journey – more if there are delays.
Ideally it’d be great to see a very fast train on this route but that idea’s been tossed around for decades and has always come to nought. So, then, the bus it is.
A few months ago, Greyhound introduced a platinum service on the Canberra-Sydney route and I was keen to road-test it to see how it compared with the regular service.
The 6am service from Canberra is in a new coach with very comfortable reclining leather seats, good leg room, free wi-fi and power points to charge your phone or laptop. Now I have to declare that my one-way journey was complimentary; my partner paid $46 for the same journey.
Although our experience was mostly positive, we found an issue with the scheduling that needs to be addressed or at least stated clearly to passengers. We had booked our passage to Sydney International Airport with a scheduled arrival time of 9.45am.
As we were checking in, the driver mentioned that because it was a platinum service it would be going to Sydney Central first and would then backtrack to the airport. The website didn’t (and still doesn’t) state this during the booking process, nor was it mentioned by the man who handled my partner’s booking by phone.
Realizing that we would run into peak hour traffic in Sydney, I was concerned but did a quick mental calculation and was reassured that I had allowed a generous amount of time before we were due to check-in. It was fortunate that I had because we ran into dreadful traffic, adding at least another 45 minutes to the journey.
There were several other passengers going to the airport, none of whom knew that the service would take them to Central Station first. One almost certainly missed his flight and wasn’t at all a happy chap.
I think Greyhound needs to look at its schedule for this as despite being targeted at corporate travellers, it is also being offered as a service to the airport.
Stopping at the airport first would be no more than a 10-15 minute detour for passengers wanting to go to Central and would give air travellers a high degree of certainty of getting to the airport on time. Stopping at Central first, on the other hand, adds at least half an hour (and an unacceptable risk of delay) for anyone wanting to go to the airport.
Most importantly, though, the schedule needs to be spelt out for passengers when booking.
Currently, if you type in ‘Origin: Canberra’ ‘Destination: Sydney International Airport’ on the Greyhound website, the platinum service comes up at the top of the page with an arrival time of 9.45am (we arrived around 10.30.) It makes no mention of Sydney Central and since Greyhound’s regular services don’t go to Central first, it’s not something you would assume.
Unless Greyhound re-thinks its schedule, I doubt that I would use the platinum service to go to the airport again – it adds an element of risk that I’m not prepared to take before a flight. As a service to Sydney Central, I think it’s great – comfortable, convenient and environmentally friendly.
It’s pleasing to see Greyhound making an attempt to lure some of the corporate market away from the airlines. I hope it succeeds.
More information: www.greyhound.com.au