Interstate Voyage Seen As Step Toward One Day Placing Humans On Route
DALLAS—In order to assess the viability of the route for potential travel by human beings, Greyhound officials announced at a press conference Wednesday a mission that will send a pair of chimpanzees on a pioneering 457-mile overland bus trip from Buffalo, NY to Atlantic City, NJ.
Greyhound researchers said that the adult chimps—named Kip and Dottie—would depart at 6 a.m. from the Metro Transportation Center in downtown Buffalo and, with luck, arrive seven hours and 20 minutes later at the Atlantic City bus terminal, an unprecedented journey that will reportedly push the animals to their physical and mental limits.
“For years, we’ve dreamed of putting this extraordinary voyage within the reach of humans, and soon we will be one step closer to making that dream a reality,” said Greyhound spokesperson Andrea Gipson, explaining that data gathered from the mission will be invaluable in terms of developing the techniques and technologies an eventual human crew will require. “We’re still years away from mankind being able to endure a trip of this nature, but, if successful, what we learn from this undertaking will be crucial in opening up a bold new era of travel.”
“It’s remarkable to contemplate,” added Gipson. “Even sending animals on a trip like this was once unthinkable.”
Gipson went on to say that during their mission, Kip and Dottie would face challenges including extreme discomfort and lengthy periods of boredom occasionally interrupted by moments of acute aggravation, not to mention frequent car sickness brought on by the harrowing interstate trek. Throughout their trip, their mobility will reportedly be extremely hampered by seats that recline just an eighth of an inch and that will force the chimps to get what little sleep they can in a nearly vertical position.
“We will monitor Kip and Dottie’s vital signs closely to see how the harsh conditions of the journey through the bleakest reaches of Western New York and upstate Pennsylvania affect their well-being,” Gipson said. “As our nearest biological relatives, chimps are the ideal test subjects to gauge how our own species might react when exposed to exceptionally stressful conditions such as the constant smell of warm egg salad or a flat tire occurring just 20 minutes into the trip.”
Greyhound’s ground team in Dallas will reportedly observe the effects the journey will have on the chimpanzees by equipping them with a handful of scratch-off lottery tickets in order to monitor the possible degradation of the animals’ visual acuity and hand-eye coordination. Sources told reporters that the chimps will also be provided with one large bag of circus peanuts apiece to analyze changes in critical thinking as measured by how effectively they ration the treats until the bus reaches the refueling station at the halfway point—a Roy Rogers in New York’s Southern Tier region.
According to researchers, the chimps will be outfitted in a standard uniform of sweatpants and flip-flops, with the addition of special sensors to record the the body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure of the animals as they are exposed to temperature extremes from sitting for hours in constant sunlight streaming through unshaded windows and being blasted by frigid air from broken air-conditioning vents directly overhead.
“Kip and Dottie have undergone months of exhaustive training so that their reflexes are in peak condition to contend with floors that are simultaneously sticky and slick with spilled 7-Up,” Gipson said, referring to one of the unique phenomena that occur on such journeys and nowhere else known to science. “But as much as we can do to prepare them for this trip, there are still many, many unknowns. Will they be able to mentally withstand a flickering overhead TV screen, the volume of which will for no reason get higher and lower at random intervals? And while we’ve prepared for at least one extended highway breakdown, what about significant delays? How will the animals cope with a toilet that backs up 20 miles into the trip?”
Continued Gipson, “The reality of the situation is, once the bus hits the I-476 ramp, the chimps are very much on their own.”
Greyhound’s methodology has come under scrutiny in the past, most notably after 1999’s New York-to-D.C. disaster, in which a dog named Chief was killed when his 55-seat vehicle skidded into a wall of the Lincoln Tunnel just 17 minutes after departure.
Nevertheless, officials remained optimistic that this latest research mission would yield results that would bring humanity ever closer to Western New York/coastal New Jersey bus travel.
“We envision a future in which any person can purchase a low-cost bus ticket and be gambling their life’s savings away within just a half-day’s travel,” Gipson said. “And believe it or not, we’re even confident that one day, a dental receptionist from Cheektowaga will be able to attend a rowdy, drunken bachelorette party and already be on her way home within 24 hours, filled with intense shame and regret, and periodically vomiting into a plastic bag she acquired at a souvenir shop on the Atlantic City boardwalk—and Kip and Dottie will have no small part in that momentous achievement.”
“Unfortunately for them, there’s only enough fuel in the tank for a one-way trip,” Gipson added.