Intercity buses are actually extremely efficient modes of transport, even beating rail. Apparently, they are becoming more popular with the public these days as well. They were the fastest-growing mode of intercity transport for the third year in a row last year, according to a new report by DePaul University researchers called “The Intercity Bus: America’s Fastest Growing Transportation Mode.”
On a personal note, I’ve taken both intercity buses (Greyhound) and trains (Amtrak) in recent years. Greyhound wasn’t nearly as nice as the train, but it’s quite a bit cheaper and can be more flexible in some circumstances. I think the train is a much better option when it comes to personal comfort and convenience, but I’m sure there is a bit of variation depending on which bus services/companies you use. Curious to hear of others’ experiences using intercity buses in the U.S. (or elsewhere for that matter).
Here’s a little more from TheCityFix on the recent report out of DePaul University:
The trend is a reversal of the decline of intercity bus operations from 1960 to 2006, which Schwieterman and Fischer attribute to the expansion and improvement of the interstate highway system, increased automobile ownership and the decay of downtown districts.
The newer successful services have, in some cases, utilized the model of “Chinatown Operators” that previously dominated the intercity market. For the past few years, a new breed of “curbside operators” have gained in popularity, expanding operations by six percent in 2010. Such “curbside operators” like Boltbus, Megabus and RedCoach do not utilize traditional bus stations, making their services more flexible. In the fourth quarter of this year, compared to the same time last year, these operators expanded service by 33 percent. (Megabus reported ridership growth of 48 percent in 2009 and 2010.)
Read more about bus branding, the importance of location, info on emissions savings, and changing behaviors over on TheCityFix: America’s Fastest Growing Form of Transit: The Intercity Bus.