CHICAGO — Instead of getting behind the wheel or boarding an airplane for the Memorial Day holiday, more than 1.7 million passengers will travel via bus this year, according to a new report from the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. Researchers forecast intercity bus travel in the U.S. will be at a 25-year high May 20-25.
“The bus industry is thriving,” said Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute. “The Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leading up to the holiday will see particularly strong passenger traffic on scheduled service carriers, as travelers seek to avoid the hassles of flying and driving.”
Passenger travel on scheduled bus lines over the Memorial Day holiday expected to be at its highest level since at least 1990. This reflects a continuing revival in the intercity bus industry, said Schwieterman. This estimate is based on a comprehensive review by DePaul of the amount of service that was made available to the public in past decades. Highlights from the report include:
- Ridership is up 5 percent: An estimated 1,747,902 passengerswill make trips of 50 miles or more by bus between Wednesday, May 20 and Monday, May 25. This represents anincrease of about 5 percent compared to the same period in 2014.
- Bus travel is expected to peak on Wednesday and Thursday: Unlike air travel, which is expected to peak on the Friday before the holiday weekend, the spike in bus travel comes earlier, on Wednesday and Thursday.
- Lower gas prices aren’t hurting the bus industry: The demandfor bus travel has remained steady despite falling gas prices.
- Passengers drawn by amenities: Carriers are offeringguaranteed seating, free Wi-Fi and power outlets to attract riders. This willbe the first major holiday since Megabus started offering reserved seatingacross its entire U.S. system.
The Chaddick Institute reached these estimates using its own Intercity Bus Data Set and bookings data from Wanderu.com, a company that aggregates bus ticket sales online. The full report and methodology are available at http://bit.ly/chaddickresearch.
Kristin Claes Mathews