JATRAN is Jackson and Hines Country public transport. The system is limited in reach within metro Jackson, so don't expect it to reach Richland, Ridgeland, or Clinton. A ticket costs a dollar and transfers are possible. There are fewer buses during Saturday than during the weekdays, and the system is closed on Sundays. The link below provides the phone numbers for additional help in using this bus system.
Across from the King Edward Hotel, now under restoration, is the newly configured Greyhound, Amtrak, and JATRAN bus terminal. This terminal is architecturally interesting because the Amtrack train tracks go over the Greyhound boarding area. Old grey steel beams support the tracks, which serve as a boarding zone on a second story. Entrance to Amtrack thus is on one side of the terminal building, while Greyhound occupies the other side of the terminal. Outside under open overhanging port area are the parking for JATRAN buses that come and go with local traffic during the day. Red colored brick provides a facade everywhere, and in a section of the track that spans over Capitol Blvd, there's a clock tower. Of course, in addition the Amtrack trains, freight trains also pass through the elevated track area.
The spirit of the Art Deco interior has been more or less preserved by the architectural firm that owns and occupies the building. The interior space has a main floor for ticketing and passenger waiting, but on a second floor mezzanine area was additional space for seated waiting and restrooms. The women's room has a tub, but I couldn't see this room because boxes of paperwork for the architectural firm were apparently stored there. I did see the men's room with the single stall shower though. I suspect that the drivers were most likely the ones to use this shower. Overall the station was relatively small, and I didn't see separate facilties for whites and blacks in the structure as it currrently is configured.
The Art Deco style Greyhound Bus Station in downtown Jackson is now closed, but the building has been saved as a registered historical building. It's historic for both architectural and symbolic reasons. See the link below that describes the architectural details of several Greyhound stations similiar to this one. In this building there's a shower in the men's room, and a bath tub in the women's room. However, this particular Greyhound Bus is particularly historic because of the Freedom Riders whose civil disobedience undermined Mississippi's segregationist "Jim Crow" laws in the transportation industry. For those unfamiliar with these peculiar laws, public facilities--buses, bathrooms, and restaurants--were physically divided to provide separate service for blacks and whites, and thus keeping the races segregated. The Freedom Riders took advantage of a Federal Supreme Court decision that local segregationist laws couldn't be applied to interstate bus service because it violated federal law. While other southern cities, most notably Birmingham and Montgomery, responded with mob violent, Jackson officials controlled affairs and did their violence in the privacy the jail cell. The following wikipedia entry describes the situation:
Behind the scenes, the Kennedy administration arranged a deal with the governors of Alabama and Mississippi. The governors agreed that state police and National Guard would protect the Riders from mob violence (thereby ending embarrassing media coverage of bloody lawlessness), and in return the Federal government would not intervene to stop local police from arresting Freedom Riders for violating segregation ordinances when the buses arrived at the depots (even though such arrests violated the Supreme Court's Boynton decision). On Wednesday morning, May 24, Freedom Riders boarded buses for the journey to Jackson MS. Surrounded by Highway Patrol and National Guard, the buses arrived in Jackson without incident, and the riders were immediately arrested when they tried to use the "white-only" facilities at the depot. In Montgomery, Freedom Riders including Yale University Chaplin William Sloane Coffin, Shuttlesworth, Abernathy, Wyatt Tee Walker, and others were similarly arrested for violating local segregation ordinances.
This established a pattern followed by subsequent Freedom Rides in which they traveled to Jackson where they were arrested and jailed. The strategy became one of trying to fill the jails. Once the Jackson City and Hinds County jails were filled to overflowing, Freedom Riders were transferred to the infamous Parchman Penitentiary ("Parchman Farm"). There abusive treatment included placement in the Maximum Security Unit (Death Row), issuance of only underwear, no exercise, no mail, and, when Freedom Riders refused to stop singing Freedom Songs, they took away mattresses, sheets and toothbrushes and removed the screens from the windows. When the cell block became filled with mosquitoes, they hosed everyone down with DDT at 2 AM.
Be careful when driving in Jackson. The roads are absolutely horrible. I suspect that roughly $50 per year is spent on the roads. Several times while driving I-55 and I-220, passengers in cars went airborn, experiencing the gut-drop that happens at a theme park.
If you want a smooth, level, easy drive, don't travel to Jackson.
Seriously consider renting a car if you plan on flying into Jackson at the airport, as there is not a well established public transportation system established in Mississippi. There are five rental companies that operate at the airport, but there usually isn’t a huge inventory of vehicles to choose from. IT would be a good idea to make a reservation, as you don't want to be stranded at this airport! Be sure that when you do rent, that you have a VAILD drivers license (for international drivers licenses, it would be wise to contact the Mississippi Department of Safety at ( http://www.dps.state.ms.us/dps/dps.nsf/main?OpenForm ) for more information if your license is permitted in Mississippi), full coverage insurance, AND a major credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express) and NOT a debit card - they can tell the difference. If you do not have ALL of the following, you can forget about renting a car.
The contact information for the car rental are:
Avis Rent A Car
Phone: 601.939.5853 Toll Free: 800.331.1212
Budget Car Rental
Phone: 601.932.2126 Toll Free: 800.527.0700
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Phone: 601.664.0106 Toll Free: 800.736.8222 (note about Enterprise, they will not rent you a car if you plan to drive outside of the state of Mississippi and drop the car off in another state).
Hertz Rent A Car
Phone: 601.939.5312 Toll Free: 800.736.8222
National Car Rental
Phone: 601.939.5713 Toll Free: 800.227.7368
The top floor is the departing / arriving flights, and the bottom floor is where either pick up your luggage, or rent a car (here’s a map of what I’m talking about: http://www.jmaa.com/AirportGuide/TermLayout.cfm) . The airport recently renovated the top floor, buy transforming the bar into a Starbucks, and they moved the bar into the lunch buffet area (which is at the same area as Starbucks). Also, they opened a couple of over-priced kiosks (one at each end of the terminal past security lock down), for passengers who don’t want to go in and out of security. The airlines that currently fly to Jackson are: American Eagle, Delta, Southwest, Northwest, and the bankrupt US Airways. There are only eight direct flights to these cities from Jackson: Dallas, Orlando, Memphis, Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Cincinnati. Usually (with the exception of DFW, Houston, and Atlanta) there is only one flight a day, so plan accordingly.
There’s nothing International about this airport. There’s not a single direct international flight that arrives or departs from Jackson (much less in Mississippi). Another issue is baggage handling. When you depart from your flight, you will have to pick up your luggage on the bottom floor; however, you will not know what baggage carousel is used (VERY annoying if two or more flights arrive within 30 minutes of each other). Expect a rather long delay in gathering your luggage, as the staff is not in any hurry to perform their job. If it rains when you arrive to Jackson, you WILL get wet, as there is not a ceiling or a covered tram to use when you disembark from the airplane (very true if you fly with Continental Airlines).
I would not expect any changes, is that they know they are the only game in town.
You're not going to find cabs just hanging around anywhere other than the airport. There is a pretty good bus system within the city limits, but the city is so spread out you'd be better off driving. The only place you'll have any trouble parking is in the downtown area surrounding the capitol building. Most of the people who park downtown work there. If you find a spot with a parking meter, take it.