Intercity Bus Service on the Rise in Missouri, Nationally
I often find myself traveling to Chicago to visit family, and when I do I have a number of transportation options available to me. When it is not possible for me to drive, I could always fly or take the train. But more often than not, when I can’t get a ride, I find myself taking the bus.
And I’m not the only one. According to a new study, intercity bus routes carried more than 60 million passengers in 2015, more than twice Amtrak’s total. And passenger levels have been growing fast. In 2008, total intercity bus passengers were only around 45 million. That means that in just seven years (tough times for other transportation services), long-distance bus passenger levels grew by 36%. That vast majority of the growth is in express services, like Megabus, which went from serving 2.3 million passengers in 2008 to 11.6 million passengers in 2015.
Why someone might opt to use Megabus or other express services is easy to understand. Compared to flying, it may take much longer, but the bus is considerably cheaper. Compared to the Amtrak, travel times can be near equivalent. And in terms of cost, despite massive subsidies for rail, taking the bus is still generally cheaper than riding the train:
SAINT LOUIS to CHICAGO
Number of Departures
Travel Duration (hours)
Megabus and companies like it have upped the game for intercity bus travel. Not only do they provide competition to air and rail services, but they have also forced legacy services like Greyhound to match their speed and onboard amenities. In the end, it’s market innovation creating benefits for travelers in Missouri and across the country.