Bus Transportation in the United States

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2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the bus industry in the United States.  The spread of COVID-19 has forced the majority of American intercity bus operators to halt operations or reduce services.  As a result, thousands of bus companies have parked their buses to comply with newly enacted travel restrictions and the coronavirus situation has impacted millions of travelers nationwide.

Without a steady stream of passengers, bus companies are working diligently to survive. So far, the United States bus industry has been left out of any government funding to assist companies in this time of need.

Fortunately, organizations such as the American Bus Association are on the front lines, providing much needed financial guidance to struggling companies and serve as the collective mouthpiece for the entire American bus industry.

 

A Timeline of Bus Transportation Events

05/13/2020: Buses roll in on Washington to demand government support.The American Bus Association (ABA) organizes “Motor coaches Rolling for Awareness,” a rally of American bus operators, taking place in Washington D.C. on May 13. ABA members are driving their buses to the United States capital, demanding government support for the negatively impacted American bus industry.
04/09/2020: Trailways suspends service in hard hit communities.On April 9, Trailways announced they were suspending services in the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. They would continue to operate emergency and essential services in specific areas.
04/04/2020: Bolt Bus suspends routes in the Northeast.The popular intercity bus company, Bolt Bus, suspends all of it’s Northeast United States service as of April 4. The company also suspended travel for several stops in Oregon. Bolt Bus did not provide a date to resume travel.
03/26/2020: megabus begins reducing service.Low cost carrier megabus, announces the suspension of all routes to and from New York City starting March 26. Soon after, the company also discontinues service in California, Pennsylvania and the Midwest, including Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison/St. Paul.
03/23/2020: Greyhound US cuts back network and schedules.Greyhound buses, the nation’s largest intercity bus provider, cuts back its network and reduces its schedules on March 23. Greyhound Stations will be closed, but still serviced as bus stops. Services at select stations will be suspended.
03/22/2020: New York implements stay-at-home orderOn March 22, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo enacts a stay-at-home order, describing it in his own words as “Putting New York on pause.”
03/22/2020: FlixBus halts all United States operations.On March 22, Nationwide carrier FlixBus halted service for all routes located in the United States until further notice.
03/21/2020: United States and Canada border closed.On March 21, The border between the United States of America and Mexico will be temporarily closed to all non-essential travel.
03/19/2020: California issues first stay-at-home-order.On March 20, California governor Gavin Newsome becomes the first governor to implement a stay-at-home order.  The restrictions will be monitored and kept in place until further notice.
03/16/2020: President Trump advises against unnecessary travel.On March 16, the President of the United States issued guidelines urging people to avoid unnecessary and discretionary travel. This comes as states begin to see large increases in coronavirus cases due to travel across state lines.
03/14/2020: European Travel Ban PassedOn March 14, the United States levied a ban against 26 European countries, denying them entry into the United States. The ban includes non-American residents who have been in the Schengen border-free zone for the last 14 days.

An Overview of Bus Transportation in the United States

The intercity bus industry has a longstanding history in the United States. The country is served by several large national providers, and by numerous regional providers who link together the smaller towns and more rural regions.

Greyhound is the nation’s largest intercity bus provider, starting it’s first route in 1914. The company held a stronghold on the national bus market until British company, megabus entered the US market in April 2006. Consequently, megabus shook up the industry by providing extremely low-cost fares. In the summer of 2018, German bus provider FlixBus entered the US market, starting on the West Coast and slowly expanding east. For the first time in US history, three bus companies are competing for national coverage.

Regional providers serve an important role in the United States, linking together smaller towns and areas. Peter Pan Bus Lines serves the Northeast United States. However, in 2017, Peter Pan ended it’s 20 year partnership with Greyhound, hoping to improve it’s operations in the area. Jefferson Lines operates in 14 states in the Midwest and was able to take over many former Greyhound routes to expand their offerings. Finally, Trailways has a group of more than 70 independent bus companies who cover many of the smaller areas across the nation.

Major Bus Companies in the United States

More than 600 million Americans and visitors travel in the United States on a motorcoach annually, generating more than $237 billion in transportation, travel and tourism revenue. As a result of the high number of competitors in the intercity bus market, US Buses continue to be one of the best deals in travel. Below are some of the largest bus companies in the United States and a few of the most popular routes they serve.

 

Bus CompanyCoverage
Greyhound US LogoNational Coverage. Popular routes include:

Peter Pan Bus Lines LogoCovers the Northeastern United States. Popular routes include:

Megabus US LogoNational Coverage. Popular routes include:

BoltBus LogoCovers the Northeastern and Northwestern United States. Popular routes include:

FlixBus LogoNational Coverage. Popular routes include:

Jefferson Lines LogoCovers the Midwestern United States. Popular routes include:

Trailways LogoCovers New York State and select Canadian cities. Popular routes include:

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