Every day a giant yellow bus with the word “Tornado” printed across it in colorful lettering makes its way to Gainesville.
Not the average shuttle service, the Tornado Bus Company transports people from as far as Mexico to cities throughout the U.S.
Gabriela Boyd, the regional manager of the company, said for over 20 years the bus has transported people to and from Gainesville. Each day she said people arrive from Mexico, either to work seasonally in the U.S. or to see their loved ones.
During the summer months, Boyd said the bus schedules can become thrown off in Gainesville because of the wait at the U.S.-Mexico border. She credits the influx of people to summer vacationers.
“The border is so packed and can take three to four hours there,” she said.
Those who work temporarily in the country, she said, have a permit that requires them to return to Mexico.
Boyd said the company does not allow minors to travel without a legal guardian.
The main drop off and pick up point in Gainesville is on Atlanta Highway in the parking lot of La Flor De Jalisco #2.
Each bus includes air conditioning, TVs for passengers, free Wi-Fi, electrical outlets at each seat and a restroom. The buses additionally offer accommodations for handicapped customers.
“Our long distance is really comfortable and our prices are affordable,” Boyd said.
Tornado Bus Company’s roots go back to 1993 when it opened in Oak Cliff, the historic part of Dallas, Texas.
The company currently has 50 office locations in various Mexican cities and around the U.S. including Atlanta, Nashville, Kansas City, Chicago, Houston and Charlotte.
Boyd said around 90% of the bus drivers are Hispanic, and help the Spanish-speaking passengers feel more at ease when using their native tongue.
“Sometimes they’re afraid to transfer and have no clue how they can get to these places,” Boyd said. “They don’t feel comfortable because of the language. We help them with that.”
The company’s staff also help make the trip across the border between the U.S. and Mexico a smooth process. All passengers are required to bring their ticket, and a passport or other valid government photo ID when traveling on the bus.
Boyd said what makes Tornado Bus Company stand out from other transportation services is the level of kindness the staff brings to their passengers. They strive to help create personal connections.
“We have transportation that not only transports people,” she said. “We work together to reunite families every single day.”For more information about Tornado Bus Company, visit tornadobus.com or call its Atlanta office at 770-458-9218.