Miles Taylor has always been obsessed with public transportation.
Growing up in Cambridge, it was his primary means of getting around. He was so infatuated by it that in middle school he even launched a blog called “Miles on the MBTA” — now “Miles in Transit” — where he set out to review every bus route and train station operated by the agency.
But these days, Taylor’s focus has been on much larger expeditions, taking him far beyond the confines of the T’s sprawling network and all the way to places like the least-used Amtrak stations in the country, and the metro lines of Barcelona — explorations he highlights on his Youtube channel.
Earlier this month, Taylor embarked on yet another epic journey, this time from Boston to Seattle on a series of Greyhound buses, a cross-country road trip that he documented extensively on Twitter — all 3,700-plus miles of it — over the course of 4 1/2 days and several sleepless nights.
His motivation? The entire trip was free using points he earned through a now-defunct Greyhound rewards program that allowed him to travel anywhere in the country.
“There’s a lot of kind of snarkiness on Twitter in the responses of people who were like, ‘You couldn’t pay me to get on Greyhound.’ But ultimately, I wouldn’t pass up a free trip to the West Coast,” said Taylor, 22, who previously rode Greyhound buses from New York to Los Angeles. “Might as well take advantage of it.”
On July 8, Taylor — a backpack strapped to his shoulders — dove head first into his quest, starting with a bus from South Station to New York City. Later, after taking another bus to Pittsburgh, he was joined by girlfriend Aleena Parenti, 18.
The entire trip would end up taking the couple, who attend the University of Pennsylvania, through 16 states and more than 60 stops, before finally arriving in Washington state and then flying back home after a quick detour in Canada.
It was an ambitious undertaking that attracted the attention of fellow transit enthusiasts online, many of whom tracked the couple’s precise movements as they journeyed from east to west.
“This is an absolutely epic thread about traveling right across the US by Greyhound,” one person wrote in response to Taylor’s daily updates on Twitter.
While at the outset it seemed like it would be a simple enough expedition, the couple’s adventure had a few hiccups along the way, Taylor said.
One particular moment that stuck out in Taylor’s mind happened while riding the Salt Lake Express — one of the buses Greyhound transferred them onto for a portion of the trip — to Boise, Idaho. The bus’s roof-hatch was left open overnight, he said, and as they passed through the mountains the scent of manure wafted into the bus and Taylor was left shivering.
“It was so cold outside that it was actively ruining the experience,” Taylor said. “Fifty-seven degrees in shorts wasn’t fun.”
But from the frustrating, unanticipated pitstops to the sudden itinerary changes brought on by cancellations and delays — scenarios that resulted in lunches at local small-town eateries and explorations of rural scenery — Taylor gave his followers an inside look at it all.
Boise! Some different morales happening right now, but at any rate, this is the dawn of the last day! Aleena is psyched because she just bought a hat with Idaho's atrocious flag on it (I'll try to get a picture of it at some point!) pic.twitter.com/L0nSJYYJQx— Miles in Transit (@milesintransit1) July 12, 2022
Although there were a few parts of the road trip that left Taylor and Parenti feeling flustered, they were offset by the unexpected kindness of people who had been watching their journey unfold online.
Amid some travel woes in Indianapolis, a young couple met up with them and provided dinner from a well-known food truck in the area. They then drove Taylor and Parenti downtown to Monument Circle, where they ate while watching the sun set.
“It reinforced our hope in humanity,” said Taylor. “It was very amazing that people would just go out of their way to help strangers.”
We have almost 3 hours here, so we walked to downtown West Burlington and are having lunch at the Broadway Cafe! It's a buffet that's good, but maybe not $19.95 a person good...we figured it'd be cheap because small-town Iowa but it would seem not! pic.twitter.com/1UkdzwEdRN— Miles in Transit (@milesintransit1) July 10, 2022
We took the W Line out to...A DINER!!! It was so awesome - close to transit, very original from its original 1957 build, and fantastic French toast! And they decided to stick a horse over the entrance for some reason - we approve. pic.twitter.com/oW4FRAQv6Z— Miles in Transit (@milesintransit1) July 11, 2022
And in Boise, they met an older couple that recounted how the husband had once taken a bus across the country in the 1970s, to visit his wife, Taylor said.
Touched by Taylor and Parenti’s journey together, the older couple delivered homemade fritters and yogurt to them for breakfast one morning.
“It was like an apparition,” he said. “But it was so nice.”
Then, of course, there were the picturesque landscapes they got to see from their bus windows, views that included the rolling hills of Wyoming, and later, while snaking through the Pacific Northwest, mountain ranges covered by fir trees.
“It’s just a totally unique thing to see for a city-dwelling East Coaster,” Taylor said. “The kind of thing that you wouldn’t really get to experience that well on a plane.”
On July 12, as they inched closer to Seattle — The Beach Boys’ greatest hits blasting on a pair of shared headphones — the rush of nearing the end of their journey finally hit.
When the bus eventually stopped, the operator announced that the station was closed, and the two stepped off the vehicle. Taylor let it all sink in.
Even though they were 28 hours behind schedule, they had made it.
“‘We actually just did that,’” he recalled thinking. “The kind of incredulousness at the fact that we had made that insane trip work, and having been rerouted several times, the end was a very exciting thing.”
Taylor said other transportation-related challenges await him this summer, such as attempting to ride every mile of trolleybus in the country, starting with Boston.
He also still has one more free ticket to use from Greyhound before it expires.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with that,” he said.