As Gas Prices Climb, So Does Bus Ridership

Friday, April 29, 2011


Ahead of the busy summer travel season, inter-city bus ridership continues to climb despite the trio of recent crashes in the Northeast.

Robert Schwarz, executive vice president of Peter Pan would not offer specific ridership numbers, but he said "it's definitely increasing and we’re very optimistic for where it’s going to go this summer."

He added of rising gas prices: “It's very good for the intercity bus industry" because travel is a discretionary item and habits can change with relative costs.

With gas more $4 a gallon, filling up the tank to go to Washington, D.C., can cost $60. You can get three bus tickets for that.

MegaBus has been expanding fast in the past few years, so it's hard to tell how gas prices might affect growth.

Dale Moser, COO of MegaBus, said, that comparing ridership to this time last year on the same routes, the growth is "significantly greater" than projected, adding some of that "has to be somewhat related to gas."

He cautioned, they do not ask riders to give the reason they choose the bus over driving when the buy a ticket.

Maureen Richmond of Bolt Bus had a slightly different report. For more than  a year, her company has been operating at above 95 percent capacity on weekends. So growth in ridership is difficult to identify, she said. But for weekday service, there's been a "slight uptick in passenger travel" in recent months. Bolt Bus is jointly owned by Greyhound and Peter Pan.

Overall, buses, particularly curbside pickup buses, are the fastest growing mode of intercity transportation. Professor Joseph Schwieterman, of DePaul University who studies the industry, he said "the evidence suggests that ridership is up at least 33 percent now versus a year ago with all the new service as well as heightened fuel prices, but exact numbers are elusive."

Pittsburgh recently added a bus hub that he says also contributed to new ridership numbers overall.

For more on buses and all things transportation, go to Transportation Nation.


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Comments [1]

Leslie Freudenheim from nyc

How about a story on poorly designed NYC busses and how they could be better? For example:
1.Design busses low to ground so there is no beep beep beep waking sleeping New Yorkers all night while busses “kneel.” (The beeps wake me through triple pane glass.)
2.Design front doors wide enough to allow entry and exit simultaneously as in London and Berlin. This would save time now wasted waiting for people to exit before new passengers can get on.
3.Design back doors to be wide enough to allow several people to enter, (see Easy-pass idea below) and leave simultaneously.
4.At the very least design back doors so they open wide and stay open at the push of a button as in London, Berlin, Paris.
5.It’s ridiculous to ask New Yorkers to exit by the rear door because:
a)Most of the time the rear door won’t open when you touch the yellow strip.
b)Even if you get the door open, it won’t stay open long enough to get out carrying a baby or groceries.
c)Morever, if you get the door open it opens just a bit; not enough to let several people exit simultaneously and it closes before the person behind you can get out.
d)NYC Busses are often so crowded one can’t get to the back door.
Wheelchair and Baby Carriage Access
It’s ridiculous to hold up many passengers while the driver stops the bus to lock a wheelchair into place when the wheelchair can lock himself in place as in Berlin and London. Therefore:
6. Design back doors to open with a ramp for wheelchairs, carriages when needed, as in Berlin. (Driver does not leave his seat.)
7. Change bus design so that baby carriages and wheelchairs have space to “park” themselves opposite the back door as in Berlin and London.
8. Another advantage, the Berlin and London systems allow persons in wheelchairs to enter and exit without needing a 2nd person to assist them.
Fare collection, Two Ideas:
Ask the Easy-pass system technicians to figure out how individuals could use Easy-pass to pay for bus rides; and/or ask mobile phone makers to figure out how we could pay in advance on our cell phones. Either of these systems would have these advantages:
a) No printing costs for tickets
b) Less trash (used tickets) to pick up
c) Easy-pass holders or mobile phone users who pay in advance might enter the back door as well as the front door, if doors were designed to accommodate them, speeding up time wasted at each stop.
d) It might be even better/cheaper to run than the oyster card system for which MTA has to print cards.
One problem Easy-pass or mobile phone techies would have to overcome: how to pinpoint a non-payer & collect the fare. I’m not a techie but I’ll bet these things could be overcome and save time and money.

May. 19 2011 05:57 PM

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