CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. bus companies continued to add daily scheduled routes linking cities around the country in 2014 with a 2.1 percent increase, while airline flights fell 3.5 percent, according to a study released on Monday.
According to the study by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago, bus companies introduced new luxury-oriented services and expanded their national networks to capitalize on rising demand for short- and long-distance trips. Bus travel-booking websites like Wanderu and Busbud also contributed to a rise in interest.
In the years following the U.S. financial sector collapse and the Great Recession, more people have chosen buses as a cheaper travel option, especially a younger generation of Americans not nearly so wed to cars or airports as their older compatriots.
Between 2010 and 2014, the number of U.S. daily scheduled inter-city discount services almost doubled to 1,066 from 589. With their national networks now in place, bus companies will likely focus on continued service enhancements to attract more customers in 2015, the study predicted.
Chaddick Institute director Joseph Schwieterman, who co-authored the study, told Reuters “there has been a perfect alignment of the stars” for bus companies in recent years.
Stagnating middle-class incomes and the widening income gap in America have boosted business at bus companies, which cost less than flying or driving. But Schwieterman said a significant part of the boost in bus business comes from younger Americans, who are turned off by extra security at airports and “are used to traveling on a shoestring budget.”
The use of buses by younger Americans has contributed to the rise of bus travel-booking websites.
“Wanderu and Busbud in particular had a banner year in 2014,” the Chaddick Institute’s Schwieterman said.
A July 2014 study by the institute found that more than 59 percent of riders used their personal devices such as smartphones during inter-city bus journeys, a much higher proportion than on other forms of transport and a sign of the relatively youthful tech-savvy composition of its new customer base.
Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by David Gregorio