Air Lines Vs. Bus Lines - Who's Winning?

Frequent Rider Miles, on-line tickets and on-board wi-fi are but a few of the amenities and cost cutting strategies that are attracting riders to inter-city bus travel.
September 22, 2008, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"If airline deregulation spawned a generation of low-cost carriers, the era of $100-a-barrel oil is giving rise to a new breed of discount bus operators. And unlike discount airlines, low-cost bus lines are thriving. While overall bus travel continues to grow in the mid-single digits, discount operators such as BoltBus (a joint venture of Greyhound Lines and Peter Pan Bus Lines), DC2NY, Vamoose, and Coach USA's Megabus are enjoying heady growth by offering cheap, no-frills travel."

"It's not just high fuel prices-it's the hassle factor at the airports that has left many fliers disenchanted," says Joseph P. Schwieterman, a professor of transportation at DePaul University. "Travelers who wouldn't have given a thought to bus travel are now stepping on board."

"For bargain bus lines, the key to success is their ability to keep costs to a minimum. BoltBus, for instance, picks up passengers curbside, sparing it the expense of leasing space at a terminal. And it only sells tickets online, which eliminates the cost of employing ticket agents. (Roughly 90% of Greyhound's tickets are sold either by phone or at a terminal.) BoltBus is also building business with a frequent-rider program"

From "Smaller Airlines Get Battered This Time":
"By contrast (to legacy airlines that can still rely on business class travelers), executives at the discounters-one of whom boasted that he had stolen customers not from the big airlines but from bus operators like Greyhound-have seen demand fall as some of their most cost-conscious clientele head back to the bus."

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Published on Thursday, September 18, 2008 in Business Week
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