How the Mighty have fallen | The Greyhound bus tragedy

Greyhound Unitrans buses. The once undisputed majestic blue horses that graced and transversed the great South African landscape. Adorned in unmistakable collage of blue shades and white streak colors. It was synonymous with luxury and elegance.

The interior and exterior were always in pristine condition, you could be easily forgiven if you mistook it for a wingless airbus A380 strutting on the national tarmacs.

The bus surpassed all safety ratings and was renowned for its impeccable timings. It was commandeered by professional drivers who were steadfast on their resolve to maintaining safe operating conditions and a welcoming eversmiling stewarding crew.

It was a true pioneer, Greyhound was the first luxury coach operator to start an intercity scheduled service in South Africa as far back as 1984.

It was the preferred road transport by executives and the affluent and a desire for many.

The company operated two services, a semi-luxury line, Citiliner, and an ultra-premium one, the Dreamliner.

The luxury Dreamliner range was more spacious and breath taking and never short of rich trimmings. Some of these comforts were built on a Marcopolo Paradiso 1800 DD Chassis.

The closest rival and hot on their heels was Intercape coaches, a bus company which traced its origins in Capetown by Mr Ferreira. Intercape was the failsafe option if you couldn’t afford a greyhound bus ticket.

Although it took a chunk of customers, Intercape seemed to put more emphasis on quantity over quality. The drivers and some coaches conditions never really lived to the Greyhound standards.

Read also: Greyhound bus collision with bakkie on N1 leaves 6 people dead

As the old proverbial adage goes all good things must come to an end, however begrudgingly so.

Noone ever fathomed the demise of a giant, it was a heartbreaking emotional one for many who relied on it for years for long-haul travel. It was a period that sent shockwaves nationwide, as a statement published on its website and social media platforms, said that its services will run until 14 February 2021

It came after following years of declining revenue under its previous owners, Unitrans, a subsidiary of KAP Industrial Holdings.

The Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel weighed on the business further, forcing them to cease operations.

People rejoiced and celebrated in anticipation when news was received that the premium bus company was coming back and it’s first trip to be scheduled for 13 April 2022.

But, many were dismayed although it still operates and trades under the same banner, same commercial colors, same fleet of buses. It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to tell that’s its no longer the Greyhound we once knew.

According to Greyhound’s new spokesperson, Leslie Matthews, the business was purchased by an investment entity that is owned by a private trust.

Most people speculate that Greyhound buses is now owned by the owners of Eldo Coaches. If you visit the Eldo depot on R554 close to Grasmere you can see Eldo and Greyhound buses parked in the depot.

Eldo coaches ranks amongst the worst rated buses in South Africa, if reviews on Hello Peter are anything to go by.  There, you see endless complaints citing, unprofessional conduct from the bus company.

Eldo buses and coaches are a thorn in the flesh, often strewn nonchalantly on national roads from breakdowns, the coaches themselves have been involved in numerous accidents.

I have travelled on an Eldo coach before, from Johannesburg to Durban, the overspeeding on the bus was worrying. The driver ignored the overspeeding warning bell that continously chimmed at 120km/h.

If the rumors are anything to go by, that Greyhound is run by Eldo management, then don’t expect the glamour days of yester years from Greyhound buses.

Unprofessionalism is contagious.

The deteriorated standards at Greyhound have been brought to light in the most recent accident that has occurred after they have been acquired by new management.

A fatal accident in Northern cape near Richmond occurred , claiming the lives of six innocent souls.

Heinrich’s Domino Theory states that an accident is only one of a series of factors each of which depends on a previous factor?

We look at those factors through the eyes of a witness, Sphamandla Zondi‬, from Cape Town, who was on board the bus – heading from Durban to Cape Town, with 28 souls on board, including him.

All which shades more light and prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the once majestic company is nothing more than a white elephant.

“The bus was late, supposed to leave Durban at 11.35 but it ended up leaving at 12pm.

The bus experienced mechanical difficulties, We had to wait from 8pm to 1am for the mechanic to arrive. After around 2pm, when the mechanic finished with the tyre, another problem surfaced – the bus did not want to start. we could only move at 4am.

“That’s eight wasted hours already,” Zondi said.

At 7.50pm exactly, on the N1 at Richmond, is when the bus hit an oncoming white vehicle (bakkie) causing the bus to overturn under the bridge at Richmond.

The bus driver was overtaking a truck with a red container. When the bus had to move to its lane, the truck accelerated and the bus could not make it.

The lateness of the bus, and further mechanical problems caused an 8 hour delay, it’s apparent in an effort to chase time the driver ended up making dangerous manouvers on the road.

It all goes back to poor fleet management.

Had the bus been properly and adequately serviced and pre trip inspected we wouldn’t have lost 6 innocent lives.

If you go to Montrose on the N3 near Harrismith you can clearly see how Intercape is now the default ruler on the road. It’s a no Brainer. – by Freethinker Jo

Views expressed in this article are not those of SA Trucker but that of the writer.

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