Conference PaperPDF Available

New Directions: 2023 Outlook for the Intercity Bus Industry in the United States s



This study reviews notable strategic moves of intercity bus lines in the United States, including Greyhound Lines, FlixBus, Megabus, Trailways, and Peter Pan, during 2022. It also makes predictions for the sector for 2023 and beyond. The paper (25 pages, PDF, with eight custom maps) includes an analysis of the closing of Greyhound Bus Stations around the country and the expanded integration of FlixBus and Greyhound. This paper is part of the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University's annual review of the intercity bus sector.
2023 Outlook for the Intercity Bus Industry in the United States
The Chaddick Institute’s Annual Intercity Bus Review| February 7, 2023
By Joseph P. Schwieterman, Abby Mader, and Allison Woodward
Attend our free webinar on this study on February 23, 2023, at 2 pm CT. See page 24
series of initiatives by intercity bus lines in 2022 surprised observers and are imbuing optimism about
scheduled long-distance bus travel. The past year's developments, ranging from the rollout of first-class and
sleeperbus service to new partnerships to expanded schedules and reservation options, are accelerating the
transformation of an industry that many regarded as stodgy and stuck in a bygone era just a few years ago. The
industry is becoming more data-driven and open to experimentation.
Yet, the excitement generated by these developments is tempered by the
realization that serious problems persist. Chronic driver and mechanic
shortages, the shuttering of traditional bus terminals, the increasing
average age of motor coaches, unpleasant customer experiences due to the
conditions around curbside pick-up spots and in terminals, and unruly
passengers continue to hurt the industry. The intercity bus industry
continues to be overlooked in many discussions about the U.S. intercity
travel market despite handling a greater modal share than passenger rail
and a sizable share compared to air travel on many routes under 250 miles.
New Destinations highlights the notable developments of 2022, organized
by geographic region and key nationwide trends, each with a prediction.
We also provide insights on the status of the intercity bus ridership
nationally on page 20. We exclude from our review moves to restore
schedules dropped during the pandemic, most activity by airport and campus shuttle operators, and efforts by
rural bus lines to shift from regularly scheduled service to variable-route or demand-responsive services. The study
focuses instead primarily on conventional city-to-city offerings.
New Destinations:
312.362.5732 | CHADDICK.DEPAUL.EDU
Photo caption (above): A FlixBus service on Chicago’s Canal Street, October 2022.
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Assisting contributors
This region’s activity has centered on service
launches in major corridors and competitive moves
by Adirondack Trailways and Greyhound due to the
cancellation of their longstanding “Operating Pool”
agreement. FlixBus, Megabus, and Peter Pan each
made notable moves in Boston. All three business-
class services linking New York City to northern New
England, by Concord Coach, C&J, and Dartmouth
Coach, are back, as depicted on our Interactive Map
of Premium Bus Services.
The cancellation of the longstanding Greyhound and
Adirondack Trailways Operating Pool, announced by
Greyhound in May, changed this region’s bus-travel
landscape. The pool included joint ticketing and
revenue-sharing arrangements for services linking
New York City to
Upstate New York,
southern Canada, and
other points. It was
designed to reduce
schedule duplication
and allow ticketed
passengers to switch
between carriers
(usually for a fee) as
their plans change.
While announcing the
Greyhound noted
that it would expand
service between New
York, Albany, Buffalo,
and Montreal. By
autumn, it was
running four New York Montreal buses daily, one
more than in 2021. A similar operating pool
between Greyhound and Peter Pan ended in 2017.
After the Pool was annulled, Greyhound ceased
providing arrangements for brands affiliated with
Trailways of New York, including Adirondack and
New York Trailways, to use its Albany Bus Terminal.
Trailways and Peter Pan Bus Lines moved to a new
location with a modular waiting room roughly two
blocks away while maintaining existing schedules.
Another surprise came in November, when
Trailways of New York announced an agreement
with Megabus that puts much of its network,
including its New York state and southern Canada
services, on the platform. Separately,
Adirondack Trailways dropped its service from
Albany to Gloversville, NY, an apparent victim of the
decline in traditional office commuting. At roughly
the same time, discussions about whether Albany
Our Prediction about Accelerated Integration of FlixBus and Greyhound
Greyhound and FlixBus will be sold on a new reservation platform developed by FlixMobiliy for travel starting
February 22, 2023. The platform introduces reserved seating and other conveniences to Greyhound passengers.
We expect connections between the two brands’ buses to increasingly be offered to travelers on a single ticket.
See page 19 for our five prognostications for the rest of 2023 and beyond.
needs a new consolidated bus and transit station
captured headlines.
Meanwhile, Megabus’s moves in this region
make clear that, despite its withdrawal from
the Midwest and Arizona, California, and
Nevada, it will vigorously defend its market
share in this part of the country. Megabus
restored almost all its services from before the
pandemic and was particularly aggressive last
year on the Boston New York route. On peak
days, Megabus typically offered six trips in each
direction, mainly using double-deck coaches
configured with 81 seats, more than 50% more
than single-deck coaches. Then, in the year’s
final days, Megabus announced a partnership
with Peter Pan Bus Lines, putting that carrier’s
service in this corridor on while
working with it to provide additional service
during peak periods. Following the agreement,
Megabus began selling Peter Pan trips on its website
and ended its own service on the route. On peak
days, Peter Pan now runs ten trips in each direction.
FlixBus expanded its Boston New York service by
forging a partnership with Lucky Star, a pioneer of
the “Chinatown bus movement” of the late 1990s.
In November, Lucky Star services became exclusively
available on The niche provider offers
five to seven round trips daily between New York’s
Chinatown neighborhood and South Station. Pricing
appears more dynamic than before, with higher
fares on peak dates.
Also in Boston, FlixBus assumed operation in May of
the pair of former BoltBus gates at South Station
Bus Terminal while continuing its less-frequent
service to New York in the same metropolitan region
from Brookline and Cambridge, MA. These gates
came to FlixBus as part of its parent’s Greyhound
acquisition in 2021. FlixBus also leased space at a
parking lot a few minutes south of the station and
moved some arrivals and departures there. Its latest
schedules, however, show all boarding and alighting
at the South Station gates. As a result, travelers can
now ride from this prime location to Providence, RI,
Hartford and New Haven, CT, and New York and
make connections to many other points.
The competition from the Northeast region to
southern Canada has intensified as well. After the
reopening of the Canadian-US border, Megabus
relaunched service between Toronto, ON, and New
York and Washington, DC. The New York route
competed head-to-head with Adirondack,
Greyhound, FlixBus, and an OurBus connecting
Among the minor changes, Megabus
rerouted one of its two daily Toronto - New York
A New York-bound Peter Pan coach is in Silver Spring, MD on January 9,
2023. At the route’s terminus, transfers can be made to New England.
Carriers making notable moves in New England and New
York State in 2022 (partial representation).
buses via Albany, NY. On the Washington (via
Philadelphia) route, Megabus added stops at State
College and Harrisburg, PA. The New York route has
since been suspended, possibly due to a desire only
to sell Adirondack services on, while
the Washington route, also suspended, may be a
seasonal offering. FlixBus also expanded in southern
Canada last year by adding a Windsor Toronto, ON
service and other new services.
Coach operator Plymouth and Brockton Street
Railway had in 2021 expanded beyond its core Cape
Cod metropolitan Boston routes by adding a new
service linking Hyannis and Woods Hole. MA to
Providence’s TF Green International Airport. Last
summer, however, that service was abruptly
canceled for undisclosed reasons. Driver shortages
and the Rhode Island airport’s limited flight options
compared to Boston Logan International Airporta
major destination for P&B ridersmay be to blame.
In June, OurBus restarted its service linking
Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino to both Boston
and New York. This is noteworthy considering that
Mohegan Sun, once abuzz with casino and intercity
buses, saw essentially all of its scheduled coach
service suspended during the pandemic. OurBus
made one stop in each direction, five times weekly,
on a New York - Boston trip. This has been
suspended for the season, with its possible
resumption this March.
OurBus experimented last year with a connecting
service linking Albany, NY, to Philadelphia and
Washington, DC, by adding a stop to an Albany-New
York trip at George Washington Bridge Bus Station.
At the “GWB,” riders could make transfers to reach
numerous Northeast Corridor points and Upstate
New York four days a week. Finally, OurBus
expanded services linking Amherst and
Northampton, MA, to New York, previously available
only during college breaks. The once-a-day service is
now year-round, Thursday - Monday, and runs via
Holyoke, CT.
Far fewer changes occurred on rural and seasonal
leisure routes than in 2021. A pilot of the Southern
Maine Connector, a local Saco Springvale, ME,
service offered by several local organizations to
expand healthcare access, launched last year. Also,
Vermont’s Tri-Valley Transit, a rural transit operator,
increased Burlington Middlebury, VT service.
Vermont Translines continues its twice-daily Albany
Burlington service despite the launch of Amtrak’s
new Vermonter service.
Among the most notable developments regarding
bus stations was Greyhound’s relocation from its
longtime Erie, PA station. The massively complex
project to build a new Port Authority Bus Terminal
(with a separate wing for intercity trips) is
progressing, though most construction is still years
away. A rearrangement of the formerly mostly
intercity-bus area on the lower level (south) has
resulted in most of this area’s gates being used for
commuter service. As long-range moves forward,
traveler concerns about the current terminals
physical upkeep and personal safety persist.
The most notable shifts in this region during 2022
were a bevy of local-route changes in Pennsylvania
and new options for New Jersey travelers. Relatively
little happened on the busy New York
metropolitan Washington routes. All major bus lines
serving that route before the pandemic, except
BoltBus, are back, although service remains less
Virginia Breeze bus on the Valley Line is at West Falls Church, VA on
January 9, 2023. Riders can monitor their trip on Megabus Bus Tracker.
frequent in numerous cases. (Please see our special
2020 report on the evolution of New York
Washington service over the past few decades.)
Furthermore, as depicted on our interactive map, all
of the most well-known businesses- and first-class
services are back, including BestBus Prime,
Vamoose Gold, Washington Deluxe Lux, and a
newer offering by The Jet.
Flixbus made several notable moves last year,
including adding New Jersey’s Newark Penn Station
stops to specific New
York - Washington -
Richmond, VA trips. This
station, a central hub for
transit lines, provides a
convenient alternative to
FlixBus's service from
Midtown Manhattan.
FlixBus also began using
Greyhound’s dedicated
gates at Washington
Union Station, giving
shelter and new
amenities for
passengers. For roughly
a week in August, FlixBus
offered trips on a
battery-powered J4500
Charge coach between
Philadelphia and
Washington, demonstrating the potential of
emission-free bus travel. This 139-mile route didn’t
present the "range anxiety" that might be prevalent
using electric buses, which generally have a 200
240-mile range, on New York Washington trips.
Apparently, in response to Megabus’ pre-pandemic
withdrawal from Annapolis, MD, FlixBus launched
service from the colonial city’s downtown to
Midtown Manhattan in early 2022. This service
originally ran via Newark, DE, but by the end of the
year, it was via Baltimore. FlixBus also launched a
Washington Foggy Bottom service in early 2022 that
was later suspended. Direct Foggy Bottom -
Midtown Manhattan service hadn’t previously been
available since Washington Deluxe offered it in the
early 2000s.
A realignment of state-subsidized routes made by
Pennsylvania’s transportation department
eliminated several local routes operated by
Fullington Trailways, including ones from
Williamsport and Easton, PA, to New York and
Williamsport - Allentown Philadelphia, PA. More
favorably, Megabus began selling Fullington’s state-
supported services on in September,
adding nearly two dozen more destinations to its
platform and continuing Megabus’s push to bring
more state-funded services into its fold. In addition,
Fullington, which is once again fully family-owned,
began a new daily Buffalo, NY Pittsburgh via
DuBois service.
Separately, OurBus launched an
intrastate State College Harrisburg - King of Prussia
- Philadelphia service, closing a gap resulting from
the state realignment that is particularly beneficial
to Philadelphia travelers, offering stops at both
Center City and its international airport. Service
continues eastward to Atlantic City, NJ, during the
The Jet, a first-class bus service between New York
and Washington, DC, that launched in 2021 has
expanded from four to five days weekly, typically
with two trips in each direction. The Jet’s spacious
coaches are configured to 1x1 seating and have
computer-aided motion-canceling “hoverseats” that
allow for a smoother ride than conventional
offerings. Fares are typically around $99 - $149 each
way. A service attendant and a wet toilet are
Landline formed a partnership with American
Airlines that spawned a “code-share” service
between Philadelphia International Airport and
regional airports in Allentown, PA, and Atlantic City,
NJ. This service, launched in June, boasts through-
ticketing and baggage service on buses bearing the
airline’s familiar blue livery. Allentown has airside
arrivals and departures (behind security) and
groundside ones at Atlantic City. American Airlines
has bona fide flights from Allentown, allowing
passengers on some itineraries to depart on a flight
and return by bus. In mid-August, Landline added a
route from Lancaster, PA, to Philadelphia.
Landline expanded yet again last fall by taking over
operations of the United Airlines shuttle between
the Allentown Airport and Newark Liberty
International Airport. This service, created several
decades ago and dubbed “UA Bus Service,” has in
the past been provided using vans and offered
airside (behind security) pick-up in Newark. There is
groundside pickup in Allentown and drop-off in
Newark, requiring flyers to go through security once
they arrive.
OurBus introduced a novel system of first- and last-
mile connections to the Jersey Shore during
Memorial Day weekend. Passengers on coaches
running between both New York and Philadelphia to
Atlantic City can make timed connections at
Galloway, NJ, to reach Wildwood, Ocean City, and
other New Jersey locales. Transfers are made to car
and limousine services that are locally operated with
connections guaranteed by OurBus. Initially a
weekend-only service, it has now been expanded to
daily, with some locations being served year-round.
Also, OurBus has enhanced a holiday-only route
connecting the college town of Slippery Rock in
northwest Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh, Harrisburg,
Philadelphia, and New York into a year-round
service. Available four times weekly, the service
caters heavily to students while providing added
frequency between Pennsylvania’s two largest cities
and Midtown Manhattan.
The bus service network near Canal Street
(Chinatown) remains robust. As of January 2023, it
encompassed 14 ethnic-oriented carriers and 8,222
miles of routes, with a total of 93 stop locations, our
A FlixBus service for Midtown Manhattan I s curbside in
Washington’s DC Dupont Circle neighborhood on January 9, 2023.
Carriers making notable moves in the MidAtlantic region in
estimates suggest. Routes extend north to Buffalo,
west to Indianapolis, IN, and south to Tampa, FL.
Only 5% of stops are traditional bus terminals, while
more than 60% are at retail stores or restaurants.
Fares from New York tend to be lower than on
conventional bus lines, with a median price
difference of 38.7%. Check out our map and
informational poster on this dynamic network in the
Virginia Breeze, the intercity bus line supported by
the Virginia Department of Transportation, remains
a success story. All four of its routes set ridership
records in October, carrying a combined 6,705
passengers, with service on most routes being one
daily roundtrip. Piedmont Express, which links
Danville, VA, to the nation’s capital, handled 1.887,
an average of 63 per day, despite having only been
in operation since 2020. The outlook is murkier for
Rapid Overland Express, a business-class service
between Norfolk, VA, and metropolitan Washington,
DC, that was suspended during the pandemic and
has yet to resume.
This region’s activities generated headlines due to
the rollout of premium amenities and schedule
options unavailable before the pandemic,
a process fueled by the Sunbelt’s growing
population. Another noteworthy
development is mounting competition in
Florida, which is now heavily served by
four major lines: Flixbus, Greyhound,
Megabus, and RedCoach.
FlixBus launched service to Tallahassee in
July over two routes from Miami. One
route generally runs six days per week via
Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and Gainesville,
FL, while the other runs five days per
week via Sarasota, Tampa, and
Gainesville. The Miami stop is at the city’s
international airport, while Tallahassee’s is
on the campus of Florida State University.
FlixBus also added a Miami - Key West
route via Key Largo last year.
The Vonlane team during the first week of operation in Nashville, TN
A Southeast Stages coach has arrived in Atlanta, GA on December 31, 2022. The
carrier’s service has been added to
RedCoach, the premium bus line
known for its business- and first-
class services from Miami to
Tallahassee, also has separate
routes via Orlando and Tampa.
RedCoach notes that traffic is
approaching pre-pandemic levels
and it added Naples and Sarasota
stops to its Tampa route last year.
Vonlane launched first-class
Atlanta, GA - Nashville, TN service
in early November, its first route
east of the Mississippi River.
Generally, there are three trips on
weekdays in each direction and
two on weekends, with fares
around $99 each way. An onboard
attendant serves complimentary
snacks, beverages, and meals on
longer trips. Seats are wider than
those on first-class flights, have leg
rests, and generously recline. Neck
pillows, sleeping eye masks, toiletries, laptop and
phone chargers, and noise-canceling headphones
are available to borrow. Vonlane’s Atlanta stop is at
the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, near the
Buckhead rail rapid-transit station.
One of the biggest stories in U.S. bus
travel last year was Napaway’s launch of
a Nashville - Washington DC
“sleeperbus” in June. Travelers are
provided “Butterfly Suites” that can be
converted from a workspace with a desk
to a 6.5-foot-long lie-flat bed. Pillows,
blankets, a travel kit, and other
amenities are provided to each. Its
luxury coach, equipped with 18 suites, is
generally operated once weekly in each
direction, making late-evening
departures and morning arrivals, but is
twice weekly at certain times. Two
drivers cover different portions of the
670+-mile route. Priced starting at $125
each way, a Napaway trip is far less
expensive than $300+ “walk-up” airfares
but comparable to a discounted
advance-purchased ticket.
Travelers retrieve luggage from a sedan at Florida’s Tampa Greyhound Station FL on
December 30, 2022.
Travelers retrieve luggage from a sedan at Florida’s Tampa Greyhound Station FL
The late-in-the-year addition of a stop in Knoxville,
TN, brought Napaway to a city that has long suffered
from non-competitive air service. CEO Daniel
Aronov described to our report-writing team how
the patented suites, designed by Butterfly Flexible
Seating Solutions, create exciting opportunities for
luxury charters in which passengers want to sleep or
rest. Extensive analysis led Aronov to choose the
Tennessee route among dozens of possibilities, and
expansion could be forthcoming.
A new publicly funded bus service, Mid-State
Express, has launched in North Carolina, connecting
Winston-Salem to Fayetteville with stops in High
Point, Lexington, and Asheboro. Operated by
Sunway Charters, the service is made possible by
financial support from the state’s transportation
department and is designed to connect with both
Amtrak and local transit providers. Mid-State
Express runs twice daily in each direction and, for
some travelers, eliminates the need to make
transfers with Greyhound.
Southeast Stages, a mainstay between Atlanta, GA,
and Columbia, SC, Raleigh, NC, and other
destinations in this region, has a new marketing
arrangement with Megabus that puts its services on This brings to the booking platform
new schedule options between Atlanta and 16 cities
and between Raleigh and eight cities. Southeast
Stages, founded in 1933 and based in Atlanta, is a
family-owned line that retains its distinctive
An attractive new station for Greyhound is being
constructed in Atlanta, GA, with financial support
from Georgia’s state government. This
architecturally striking station, with eight bus bays, is
adjacent to the legacy line’s modular
facility, which is both aging and
undersized. Expected to open this year, it
features a high ceiling, large windows, and
proximity to rapid transit. It is expected to
become a consolidated facility used by
most of Atlanta’s intercity operators. Less
favorably, new reports indicate that
Greyhound could be forced to relocate
from its longstanding depots in Louisville,
KY, and Nashville, TN because these sites
are slated for redevelopment (see
discussion on page 19).
Groome Transportation has stepped up its
shuttle services linking Chattanooga, TN’s
East Ridge, to major airports in Atlanta and
Nashville. It also added Montgomery, AL
Atlanta airport service. Each route is more than 125
miles long, exemplifying how long-distance airport
services are increasingly juxtaposed with
conventional intercity bus routes. Finally, a new
service called Atlanta Beach Bus Express linked its
namesake city to Panama City, FL, during the
summer season last year.
Activity in the Midwest was comparatively light in
2022, and service levels on many routes remain
below pre-pandemic levels. Flixbus has partially
filled a void left by Megabus’s gradual
dismantlement of its Chicago hub over the past
seven years. In 2022, Megabus eliminated the last
Atlanta’s new Greyhound Bus facility being built with financial support from the
state government.
of this service in this region by cutting its Chicago
Minneapolis/St. Paul route.
FlixBus expanded from Chicago last year,
launching a service to Bloomington via
Indianapolis that runs four days per week. Its
Chicago - Detroit service runs five days per week,
while its Twin Cities route via Madison, WI, runs
daily except Wednesday.
FlixBus’s longest route, its 450+-mile Columbus,
OH - Chicago Milwaukee, WI service, runs five
days and is novel for being a “through” service
that allows passengers to avoid transfers in the
Windy City, a rarity by bus or train. Flixbus added
a stop in April at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell
International Airport to expand these offerings,
allowing for “one-seat” rides between the airport
and Dayton, Indianapolis, and Columbus while
Greyhound pauses at its Springfield, IL station, several months prior to
the company’s relocation to a downtown transit terminal.
avoiding airport security. Short-hop Chicago -
Milwaukee passengers will usually find FlixBus’s
fares well below Amtrak’s, although train service is
faster and remains much more frequent, which
appears to have slowed the recovery of bus service
on the route.
FlixBus is also experimenting with other new stops,
including Lafayette, IN, which was added last year to
cater to Purdue University students, and Kalamazoo,
MI, which was added to the Detroit schedule last
year but soon suspended. Kalamazoo has long been
an important point on the Indian Trails system,
which continues to offer Amtrak Thruway Bus
connections from that city.
Despite FlixBus’s expansion, travel options on other
busy corridors from Chicago remain modest against
the backdrop of pre-pandemic service levels and
comparably sized corridors in other regions.
Between the Windy City and Cleveland, OH,
Louisville, KY, St. Louis, MO, and Toledo, OHonce
Megabus strongholdsdirect express service is
limited to Greyhound. Amtrak trains provide service
on all but the Louisville route (which Miller
Transportation serves with a less direct route), but
the on-time performance of trains has recently
lagged. Between Chicago and Cincinnati, neither
express bus service nor daytime train service is
available. On the Chicago St. Louis route, there is
only Amtrak and Greyhound, with the latter having
reduced direct service to two trips daily, one of
which arrives at St. Louis well after midnight. On
that route last year, Greyhound began using a transit
center in Springfield, IL, allowing it to close its
dedicated bus station on the periphery of that
city. Conversely, service on the Chicago
Indianapolis route remains expansive and highly
competitive. This route is extensively served by
FlixBus, Greyhound, OurBus, and Miller
Transportation (Hoosier Ride), the latter of which,
like Barons Bus Lines, is a Greyhound interline
partner having routes fanning out into rural Indiana
and Ohio, some operated with state financial
support. OurBus launched service to Indianapolis
following the 2019 demise of Amtrak’s Hoosier State
and recently expanded its peak-day service to two
roundtrips. Identifying all the options,
however, requires visiting more than one
website, and station and curbside
facilities remain an issue. Last year,
passengers expressed growing
dissatisfaction with the condition of the
city-run bus facility at Indianapolis Union
Station, but improvements appear to be
coming. In Chicago, FlixBus may need to
make adjustments later this year when
the curbside location it uses near Chicago
Union Station becomes unavailable due to
Other notable Midwest enhancements
include Chicago Fort Wayne, IN, which
now sees four daily buses by Barons and
Miller, filling a void left by Amtrak’s
absence. Also, Tornado Bus has launched
a Chicago Grand Rapids via Holland, MI route.
In the upper Midwest, the big story of 2022 was
Landline, which continues to have a significant
“code-share” operation at Minneapolis-St. Paul
International Airport with Sun Country Airlines.
Unlike Landline’s services for other airlines at
A driver readies a coach for an afternoon departure at Detroit Greyhound
Station in February 2023.
Philadelphia and Denver, its routes to Duluth and
Mankato, MN, launched in 2019, have Landline
rather than airline insignia and can be booked by
travelers not catching designated flights. In
December, Landline created new services from the
Minneapolis airport to Rochester, MN, home to the
Mayo Clinic, and Fargo, ND, which launched last
month. The Rochester route runs twice daily and is
only available to passengers of Sun Country, which is
absorbing the costs for the first six months. Groome
Transportation, meanwhile, began a conventional
airport shuttle service last year on the Duluth route
that competes with Landline.
Badger Bus is running double-decker coaches with
81 seats on some Madison, WI Milwaukee trips.
Using such high-capacity equipment attests to the
strength of the market linking Milwaukee to the
University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and state
capital, which is also served by FlixBus and Coach
USA’s Wisconsin Coach Lines but will require
extensive investment before becoming an Amtrak
train route.
As noted in last year’s report,
Wisconsin Coach Lines now operates a
system of state-
supported local routes
in the state. Jefferson
Lines held a
demonstration of
battery-power motor
coaches in
Minneapolis in
August. The rollout
included a 52-
passenger Van Hool
vehicle with a 250-
mile range on a “Zero
Emission Tour.”
The Cincinnati
Greyhound Station
has been shuttered to
make room for the
development spurred
by the adjacent Hard Rock Casino. Greyhound and
Barons Bus have moved to a temporary, more
outlying location on Galbraith Road near Interstate
75. The now-closed depot was located downtown,
close to the city’s transit hubs, and was notable for
having bus bays on two sides.
There is hope that a new Cincinnati station with an
indoor waiting area will be built on the new site.
Jefferson Lines has forged an interline agreement
with Standing Rock Public Transit that allows its
passengers to book travel to numerous municipal
and tribal points in the Dakotas, including
Gettysburg, McLaughlin, Mobridge, SD, and Fort
Yates, ND. Jefferson also received a Business
Traveler’s Favorite Award last year from for exemplary service. Finally,
Jefferson and Burlington Trailways were each
awarded funds from the State of Iowa to support
their rural services.
Texas has emerged as a testbed for premium service,
with three companies, RedCoach, Tornado, and
Vonlane, making notable moves in 2022. This trio
competes with the value-priced national brands
FlixBus, Greyhound, and Megabus, as well as the
Hispanic-oriented lines El Expresso and Tornado
Bus, which are under common ownership. Each of
the above eight lines also has extensive Lone Star
State networks.
Texas also stands out
because of its intensive
activity in the
U.S./Mexico border
region. Prominent
border towns, most
notably Brownsville, El
Paso, Laredo, and
McAllen, TX, each
reportedly saw traffic
expand in the latter
part of the year.
However, the extent of
this expansion is
difficult to quantify due
to the lack of published
information. On a
typical day, travelers can travel from McAllen to
Houston or San Antonio on Greyhound, El Expresso,
Tornado Bus, and numerous other Hispanic
operators that don’t appear on major reservation
sites. Travelers from Laredo can choose from
several providers. Extra sections are sometimes
operated to meet the demand.
El Expresso and Tornado’s services should not be
confused with the modest offerings provided by
some bus lines across the Mexico border. Tornado
Bus boasts double-decker Volvo buses on many
routes. In November, it took the surprising step of
launching Tornado Elite, a premium service for those
traveling in the U.S./Mexico border region using the
double-deckers. Its enhanced economy seats have
seatback screens, foot and leg rests, and generously
recline. Each coach has two restrooms. Tornado
Elite is available on the Dallas San Antonio
Guadalajara, MX route. This YouTube video touts
Elite’s amenities.
Tornado Bus is reportedly seeing a surge in traffic
from El Paso, TX, due to a rise in crossings along the
U.S./Mexico border. Even so, the role of scheduled
bus lines in relieving the humanitarian issues at the
border is attracting far less attention than in 2021.
Meanwhile, chartered motor coaches carrying
immigrants, which have operated as far north as
Chicago and
New York, have
much press
coverage. For
recent coverage
on demand for
Tornado Bus
service in El
Paso, click here.
Elsewhere in
Texas, first-class
Vonlane, which
has onboard
serving snacks
and drinks, has
expanded in the Texas Triangle. The carrier added
two departures in each direction on peak travel days
on its busiest routes. Vonlane now offers eight
peak-day departures from Dallas to Austin and
Houston and six from Austin to Houston. It also
offers a pair of trips in each direction between Fort
Worth and both Austin and Houston. Vonlane no
longer offers Oklahoma City service, suspended
during the pandemic.
RedCoach, which made its first foray outside of the
Southeast in late 2021 by introducing first- and
business-class service between Austin, Dallas, and
Houston, TX. Both this carrier and Vonlane added
San Antonio service in recent months. Efforts for
Dallas Greyhound Station, shown in early 2022, is a stop on the carrier’s new
Oklahoma City Houston service, which also serves numerous smaller cities.
high-speed rail service continue but remain years
In September, Greyhound launched a local route
connecting Oklahoma City to Houston via Dallas.
This route has numerous other stops, including
Chickasha and Lawton, OK, Archer City, Milbank,
and Palestine, TX, that otherwise lack attractive
mobility options. Operated with financial support
from the State of Texas, it follows a less direct
route than express services to close gaps in the
bus service.
With the assistance of the Oklahoma state
government, Jefferson Lines has launched a
service between Fayetteville, AR, and Tulsa that
caters to students and staff at an Oklahoma
State University campus in the latter city. This
is also designed to facilitate connections with
the Big Orange Bus, a campus-oriented line
linking OSU’s main campus to the Tulsa campus.
This region saw much more expansion with
Bustang, Colorado’s primary provider of intrastate
long-distance bus service, and another round of
initiatives by Salt Lake Express in Idaho and Utah
that build upon similar moves in 2021.
Colorado doubled down on long-distance bus travel
by investing heavily in Bustang, a unit of the state’s
transportation department. Not only was regular
Bustang service added, but Bustang Outrider, which
involves smaller buses with around 35 seats, and
Bustang Pegasus, which includes vans, grew as well.
Outrider’s primary objective is to enhance travel
between rural communities and the state’s larger
cities and towns with convenient connections and
consistent fares. Unlike some rural transit
operators, Bustang tends to focus on inter-urban
At the start of last summer, Bustang ran four daily
round trips on its West Line from Denver, with one
running to Grand Junction, the line’s terminus.
Traffic on this busy “I-70” corridor service had
reached 136% of pre-pandemic levels by last
March. Since then, it has added two more round
trips to Grand Junction, and in 2023, it reportedly
will expand to 910 daily trips, all to Grand
Junction. By 2024, there will be 13-15 daily. The
state has allocated $30 million for the pilot, which
includes the cost of purchasing more buses and
covering the operating expenses of Bustang’s
private contractors.
In the South and North Lines linking Denver to
Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, respectively
A Bustang coach, on a Denver - Fort Collin, CO run, pauses at Loveland
in August 2022. This stop is at a local park-and-ride transit facility.
A Landline coach with the United Airlines livery at Northern Colorado
Regional Airport will soon depart for Denver’s airport.
services that tend to be more commuter-focused
traffic is still down considerably, but a gradual
recovery is reportedly afoot. Bustang added two
more trips in each direction on these routes on
weekdays, from six to eight round trips, late last
year, while keeping weekend trips at two. This year,
the number will grow to 10 roundtrips on weekdays
and four on weekends, with several more roundtrips
added in 2024.
In November, the state launched a new Bustang
Outrider service between Sterling and other points
in northeastern Colorado and the populous Front
Range region. The new offering, which runs
weekdays only, has two variants, one running to
Denver and another to Greeley, CO, each operating
on alternate days, with Fort Morgan and Wiggins
among the regular stops on both routes, with other
stops being made on request.
Bustang travelers had fare-free transit connections
on local public transit services in August and half-
price fares on intercity trips that month, made
possible by a state government
appropriation. All but a few of
the state’s public bus operators
participated, with the exceptions
mostly involving agencies’
concerns that the lack of drivers
would hamper their ability to
meet the demand.
Also in the Centennial State,
Landline expanded its “code-
share” service with United
Airlines, including through-
ticketing, airline-style boarding
passes, and checked baggage.
One Landline route links Denver
International Airport to the
Northern Colorado Regional
Airport in the Fort
Collins/Loveland area, which is
currently bereft of scheduled
flights. In late 2022, the service
was expanded from four to five
daily trips and made available to
those who were not catching
United flights. This route, at just 58 miles, is too
short for scheduled air service, making this motor
coach offering more about convenience than
eliminating flights. Passengers pass through security
after arriving at DIA, but on the return journey, they
board the coach airside (i.e., behind security) at a
gate in the regional concourse that mirrors those for
Carriers making notable moves in the Mountain States in
flights. A similar wintertime service continues
between DIA and the Breckenridge, CO, ski resort.
Farther west, Salt Lake Express has launched a direct
Boise - Salt Lake City route, eliminating the need for
transfers at Pocatello, ID. The service replaces a
newly discontinued Greyhound route and includes
stops in Twin Falls, ID, Brigham City, UT, and Ogden,
UT. The move marks a
continuation of Salt Lake
Express’s robust
expansion, as exemplified
by several other recent
additions of state-
supported services noted
in our 2022 Outlook
report. In 2022, Salt Lake
Express also added a local
route to Reno, which we
describe in the next
Salt Lake Express has also
made several significant
corporate moves while
maintaining its
partnership with FlixBus.
Last year, it acquired
Northwest Trailways, a
significant development we discuss in the Pacific
Northwest section. Its role has been boosted by
Greyhound’s elimination of the Salt Lake City - Las
Vegas, NV service, a route that ran via Provo and St.
George, UT, last year. Greyhound’s withdrawal may
stem from FlixMobility’s decision to put Salt Lake
Express services on this route on both
In 2024, daylight luxury train service American
Rocky Mountaineer expects to add a Colorado
Provo Las Vegas service to its existing Denver
Moab UT offering. It is unclear whether the “scenic
motorcoach sightseeing transfer” between Moab
and Salt Lake City will continue after this.
El Paso - Los Angeles Limousine, a prominent
Hispanic line referred to as “Limousine Express,”
added a third daily trip between the Texas border
town and Denver, CO, via Albuquerque, NM. Traffic
is apparently brisk, considering that it only added its
second departure on this route in 2021. The service
is likely a response to the surge in border crossings in
this region, with El Paso acting as a significant
gateway to inland and northern cities.
Much of the activity in this region centered on Las
Vegas, NV, which has seen tourism almost entirely
bounce back from the pandemic. Several new
players have entered the busy Los AngelesLas
Vegas corridor. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles San
Francisco Bay Area route continues to lack significant
competitive entry. FlixBus and Greyhound remain
dominant, despite this being one of the country’s
busiest corridors.
A notable development for Las Vegas is the debut of
Kolors, which bills itself as a “smart bus platform.
The Mexico City-based company launched its San
Diego, CALos AngelesLas Vegas service in
December, typically with two trips in each direction.
Riders are promised a “premium economy travel
experience” differentiated from competitors with
shopping centers and hotels as bus stops rather than
terminals or curbs. Like FlixBus (prior to its parent’s
purchase of Greyhound) and OurBus, Kolors does
not own or operate buses and instead partners with
local bus companies. Over the past year, Kolor has
reportedly raised more than $20 million in
investment and expanded its market share on
several intra-Mexico routes. We expect more
announcements from Kolor in the coming months.
Another hotel-oriented
service, LuxXpress, has
also entered the
downtown Los Angeles -
Las Vegas fray while
making stops at Anaheim,
CA, and several other
points. Its Mercedes
Sprinter vans make the
trip in 4.5 to 5 hours,
twice daily in each
direction. LuxXxpress is part of a growing set of
hybrid lines, like Groome Transportation, that
possesses some of the qualities of an airport shuttle,
with some stops at hotels, but also has broad appeal
to non-flyers. Fares are typically around $65, often
above a conventional bus ticket.
Another notable Las Vegas development involves
FlixBus, which began offering a direct connection
between Coachella Valley and the gaming center in
August, from Friday through Monday, by making
Palm Springs a stop on its Los Angeles Las Vegas
route. Eliminating the need for transfers shortens
the trip by as much as four hours and allows for
“one-seat rides” to Victorville, Riverside, and San
Bernardino, CA. However, a tradeoff is the additional
time for passengers not using the new stop.
FlixBus and Greyhoundremarkably--remain the
only options on prominent reservation sites between
the metropolitan Los Angeles and San Francisco
regions. The distance, topography, and diverse
origins and destinations in the Bay Area and the Los
Angeles Basin (which, combined, have eight major
airports) make it hard for bus providers to serve any
submarket with high frequency. Attempts at
overnight sleeper services seem to have vanished a
few years ago with the demise of Cabin. While there
are multiple train departures, most require transfers
to or from a bus in Bakersfield. High-speed rail,
meanwhile, remains controversial, with construction
progressing but limited to the Central Valley area.
On this 380+ mile route, Flixbus now has more trips
than Greyhound, with
five daily trips each
way this April
compared to
Greyhound’s four.
Smaller Hispanic
operators also offer
service but do not use
major reservation
A big story in
Southern California was Greyhound vacating the
longstanding Los Angeles Greyhound Station on 7th
St. in October in favor of a facility at that city’s
Union Station. Once one of the busiest stations
on its system, the facility’s condition had declined,
becoming oversized due to Greyhound’s gradual
service reductions. It became harder to maintain
and less of a revenue generator due to the shifting
center of gravity of central Los Angeles. Even so, the
shuttered depot is perhaps the most notable
Greyhound station to be closed since the carrier
exited its relatively new (by bus industry
standards) Portland (OR) Greyhound Station in
2019. A significant benefit of the Los Angeles
Union Station (LUS) location is its greater synergy
with the region’s vast public transit system.
Another benefit of the new station location, which is
in the Patsaouris bus area, is the service amenities
and rail and bus connections. However, reports
have been made that LUS’s historic and comfortable
waiting room is closed to bus passengers.
Greyhound also relocated last year from its
A promotional image appearing on the Kolors Bus web page
( that promotes its Los Angeles - Las Vegas service
traditional Glendale, CA station for a spot at the
community’s intermodal center, which is also
served by rail.
The shuttering of these facilities is part of a series
of station closing that has dramatically changed
the West Coast’s conventional bus network (see
discussion on page 19). In 2021, Greyhound
moved out of its longtime station in Bakersville,
CA, which was demolished last year, in favor of an
intermodal facility. Greyhound operates from the
Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.
Salt Lake Express added, with financial support from
the state of Nevada, a local Reno Salt Lake City via
Elko route last year, building on last year’s Silver
State expansion. Greyhound exited this route several
years ago when it dropped Salt Lake City San
Francisco-area service in favor of offering
connections to Amtrak’s California Zephyr.
The Golden State remains a national leader in the
push to have rural bus-service providers accept
contactless payment, including credit cards, and
make digital schedules (GTFS feed) available to
support trip planning. The California Integrated
Travel Project is leading this effort.
Moves by FlixBus were among the Pacific
Northwest’s most prominent stories last year.
However, an enhancement to the region’s expansive
network of state-supported bus services also
warrants mention.
FlixBus began its long-anticipated cross-border
service between Seattle and Vancouver, BC, in June.
Passengers were transported on a fully electric Van
Hool TDX25E over the 143-mile route for several
days in June. Three or four trips generally run in
each direction, with selected runs extending south to
Portland, OR. FlixBus has also expanded its Seattle
Portland service to five trips daily during peak
months, one more than Amtrak currently offers.
Northwest Stage Lines, a fixture in the Boise, ID
Spokane, WA Seattle corridor, was acquired by Salt
Lake Express in October, adding more than 25
destinations to the Salt Lake Express (SLE) system.
The acquisition has the potential to create a
continuous single-carrier service between Salt Lake
City and the Pacific Northwest. Northwest Stages, a
Trailways affiliate and longtime Greyhound interline
partner is now being sold on its new owner’s
platform under the SLE name.
Last year, Oregon’s transportation department
began experimenting with reduced fares and new
schedules on the Cascade Route bus line linking
Eugene and Portland. Four trips are generally made
daily in each direction. Fares were cut roughly 15%,
bringing down the cost of a Eugene Portland trip to
$19, and new express schedules were also
The developments of 2022 set the stage for these
five conclusions and prognostications:
Prediction 1: FlixBus and Greyhound will
continue their push to assimilate their
networks, made possible by a new
reservation platform and more technology-
sharing. The integration will allow
travelers to make connections between
each other’s buses on a single ticket and
bring more stations and stops into closer
proximity, with particular emphasis on
public transit hubs. The transition will
require devoting much attention to
customer care.
The expectations we expressed in our 2022 Outlook
report that FlixBus and Greyhound would keep
separate stations and distribution channels for
several years on account of their differing branding,
marketing practices, and customer bases were off
the mark. By summer, many FlixBus routes
throughout the West Coast, particularly those
involving Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest,
were being sold on Adding FlixBus
routes to accelerated in autumn
until most of its North American network was on
that platform. The integration appears motivated by
a desire to build synergy and give
users new travel options, which in many instances
include more desirable boarding locations in
downtown areas of cities than Greyhound. Early this
year, Greyhound routes were added to
Also significant is FlixMobility’s creation of a new
reservation platform for FlixBus, Greyhound, and
Greyhound’s many interline partners. This will
replace the TRIPS system, which has long been a
Greyhound mainstay. This new system, which is
“live” for travel starting on February 22, 2023,
enhances the ability of Greyhound and other carriers
to manage their seat inventory and offer
conveniences previously available only to FlixBus
riders. For Greyhound customers, this includes:
Having all seats be reserved, with priority
seats available for a small fee and other
seats automatically generated, much like
an airline.
Providing an option to travel “neighbor
free” (next to an empty seat) for a fee.
Providing an option to pay a modest fee
for carbon-emission offsets,
An easier process to change your ticket,
New and more restrictive baggage rules,
which appear to be partly intended to
speed up station stops
We also expect much of FlixBus’s technical
capabilities, such as its online tools to assist
customers and its passenger-management systems,
to be increasingly used for Greyhound.
In addition, we expect connections between
Greyhound and FlixBus to be increasingly sold as a
single through ticket,” which will multiply the
number of schedule options provided on some
routes. Merging the FlixBus and Greyhound systems
in this way will require devoting much attention to
customer care and dealing with their differing
The ticket window at the Tampa Greyhound Station in late 2022.
Non-transportation entities now own many Greyhound stations.
service standards. Training Greyhound drivers to
gently but firmly enforce the reserved seat policy
will require effort and persistence.
Amid the transition, Greyhound’s expansive interline
agreements, which offer “through” ticketing with
several dozen other carriers, are poised to continue.
However, some notable details, such as whether (or
how soon) these partners will offer reserved seating,
remain to be seen. Over time, it is possible that the
expectations of interline partners will change,
considering FlixBus’s emphasis on presenting a
strong and consistent brand image to consumers.
The integration will also emphasize using common
stations and curbside stops. FlixBus now uses
Greyhound’s dedicated gates at Washington Union
Station, for example. When Greyhound relocates a
station, it often moves to the same location as
FlixBus. Watch for further development in our
forthcoming Intercity Bus E-News reports.
Prediction 2: Over the next 18 months,
premium bus services will spread to
regions lacking such service, including
Arizona, the Heartland, and the Pacific
Northwest. This expansion, in some cases,
will be spurred by the growing popularity
of long-distance airport shuttle services,
which give travelers a taste of the
conveniences of ground-travel options
while sidestepping the hassle of flying.
The rapid expansion of the business- and first-
class services is among the most heavily
publicized trends in intercity bus travel. On our
Interactive Map of Premium Bus Services, we
showcase ten brands that operate in this sector.
Click here to see the map and some of the
notable features of their routes. We define
premium services as those providing more
spacious seating than regular buses, onboard
food or beverage service, service attendants,
and through-baggage service with commercial
airlines. A provider must meet one or more of these
criteria to achieve quality. By mid-2024, we expect
the availability of premium service to spread more
broadly throughout the country.
Prediction 3: Greyhound will relocate
involuntarily in some casesfrom several
more prominent stations by late 2023,
creating a worsening predicament for the
interline bus network. Municipal officials
dealing with the consequences will face
pressure to intervene and turn to state and
federal agencies to assist in finding safe
and comfortable places for passengers to
Gradually over the past several decades, many bus
lines have moved from traditional bus stations to
intermodal transportation centers, Amtrak stations,
convenience stores, transit hubs, curbside spots, or
in rare instances, airports. The loss of amenities has
been problematic for those making transfers late at
night or early in the morning, with lengthy layovers,
or during inclement weather. The burden is
particularly felt by disadvantaged groups who
depend heavily on bus travel. When indoor waiting
facilities become unavailable, bus lines are
sometimes forced to discontinue selling tickets that
To review our Interactive Map of Premium Service, click here
require transfers at those points, which diminishes
the scope and quality of the national bus network.
The problem of finding or maintaining stations is
rapidly intensifying. In 2022, Greyhound relocated
from its longstanding stations in Charlottesville, VA;
Cincinnati, OH; Erie, PA; Jackson, MS; Knoxville, TN;
Los Angeles, CA; and North Little Rock, AK. While
some relocations, such as in Los Angeles, brought
these buses to a more centralized and desirable
location, others placed the new stops far from city
centers. In Charlottesville, Jackson, Knoxville, and
North Little Rock, the relocations sparked a public
outcry due to the loss of indoor waiting rooms and
the unappealing nature of the new locations.
Recently, there have been reports that Greyhound
stations in Cleveland, OH; Houston, TX; Kansas City,
MO; Louisville, KY; and Nashville, TN, are at risk.
The growing difficulty of providing passengers with
indoor waiting areas and other needed amenities
has been magnified by the fact that ownership of
many stations now rests with real estate firms. Most
privately run Greyhound stations continued to be
owned by FirstGroup, Greyhound’s previous owner
after that bus company was sold to FlixMobility in
late 2019. In 2022, FirstGroup acted on its desire to
divest itself of its North American assets by selling
many stations to other parties. This sale has caused
the timetable for the redevelopment of the
properties for other uses to accelerate significantly.
The problem is being exacerbated
by what some regard as a
loophole in federal regulation
requiring government units to
provide “reasonable access” to
intercity bus lines at public-transit
facilities. These transit hubs are
often well-maintained and
centrally located and have
security protocols to keep
passengers safe. Many have
heated and air-conditioned
waiting areas. The regulation
does not, however, stipulate the
fees governmental units charge
for the use of these facilities. The
monetary payments local
governments demand from
privately run bus lines to move
into and use these hubs are often
prohibitive. Some officials justify
their demands out of a desire to
refrain from subsidizing a private business. As the
crisis escalates, many connecting points are being
At a minimum, bus lines will need to educate
travelers about the absence of amenities,
particularly indoor waiting areas, on trips involving
transfersand be transparent about this when
displaying search results. Even then, invariably, the
loss of these waiting areas will create serious
difficulties for some, particularly travelers with only
modest financial resources, including immigrants.
These concerns are being magnified by concerns
about passenger safety and the need for orderliness
at many curbside stops. Some are marred by litter,
A driver assists travelers bound for Orlando at FlixBus’s curbside spot in Tampa, FL on
December 30, 2022. A Tallahassee service became available from this location earlier in the
graffiti, deteriorating sidewalks, and long distances
from retail businesses. Numerous stops and brick-
and-mortar stations suffer from the homeless
epidemic and, as one consultant noted, “from the
unspoken feeling by some in political circles that
only those people ride intercity buses and they are
not our constituents.
Unfortunately, the problems this creates have yet to
attract much attention from local policymakers,
some of whom have done little to help travelers on
intercity buses in the past. However, we expect
municipal and state governments to face growing
pressure to find long-term solutions. More cities will
be provided the impetus to follow the example of
Boston, MA, Denver, CO, Raleigh, NC, and
Washington, DC, by creating consolidated and
centrally located facilities that handle most local
arrivals and departures.
Prediction 4: Intercity bus ridership will
reach 80-85% of pre-pandemic levels by
late 2023. Although the recovery will be
nearly complete in the Sunbelt, sluggish
demand in slow-growing regions, including
the Midwest and Northeast, could trigger
service cuts on secondary routes, putting
pressure on state governments to
intervene. Driver shortages could thwart
the recovery.
The void in publicly available data on intercity bus
ridership makes forecasting difficult. To fill the gap,
we reached out to industry officials to gain insights
on ridership status. The results suggest that, in the
Sunbelt, including Arizona, Florida, the Deep South,
and Texas, traffic has fully (or almost entirely)
recovered. Passenger boardings at the U.S.-Mexico
border seem to be above pre-pandemic levels.
Passenger traffic appears to be around 75% of pre-
pandemic volumes in the Great Plains and the
Midwest. In California, New England, the Mid-
Atlantic region, and the Pacific Northwest, traffic is
perhaps around 65-75%. (The above estimates do
not include commuter services, some of which are
below 50%.)
The recovery is slowed by the difficulty of restoring
all the services cut during the pandemic due to labor
and equipment shortages. More favorably,
however, there are more paying customers per
coach departure on many routes than before the
pandemic due to the demand for seats outpacing
the supply, resulting in many peak-period departures
being sold out. The speed of the recovery depends
on the industry’s ability to resolve driver shortages,
improve perceptions of service quality and personal
safety, and adjust the ever-changing expectations of
post-pandemic travelers.
These issues and regional differences aside, we
expect traffic in the lower 48 states to reach around
80-85% of pre-pandemic levels by late 2023. This
goal may prove unattainable if severe driver
shortages persist through summer. The “new
normal” will likely result in permanent service
cutbacks on numerous marginal routes as
equipment ages and operating costs escalate.
Passengers disembark at Chicago Greyhound station on a chilly
February 2023 evening. A Burlington Trailways coach is in the distance.
Prediction 5. How bus lines use prominent
reservation platforms will continue to
change in frenetic ways in response to new
marketing alliances and a desire to expand
customer awareness. The changes will
create consumer confusion in the near
term but spread awareness of bus-travel
options over the long term.
Unlike nearly all airlines and Amtrak services, it can
be difficult for consumers to assess all the available
bus services on a route, even with a well-planned
search. Indeed, customers taking the time to review
three or four different websites may miss certain
bus-travel options and need
clarification on the different portrayals
of the same options on multiple
More favorably, the preponderance of
bus tickets is sold on a handful of
reservation platforms. This includes,, and, which are managed by
business units affiliated with
Greyhound Lines, FlixBus, and
Megabus/Coach USA, respectively, and
booking aggregator sites, such as and, and The latter three platforms
and others serve roles in bus travel akin to Expedia’s
in air travel. All use sophisticated marketing
strategies and have extensive customer databases.
How bus lines use these platforms evolved rapidly in
2022. These changes make clear that reservation
platforms have become a competitive battleground.
Until recently, intercity bus lines tended to appear
on only one of the above three platforms managed
by bus companies. This changed in 2022 when
FlixBus gradually put most of its North American
service on, in addition to having it
on Then, last month, Greyhound was as
added to Adirondack Trailways,
Fullington Trailways, Miller Transportation, and
Southwest Stages, all past or present Greyhound
interline partners, forged relationships with Coach
USA to have their services on
However, the latter two continue also to be sold on The platform is
experiencing a revival as bus lines seek to tap into
Megabus’ wide brand recognition and vast customer
Meanwhile, “booking aggregator” platforms are
releasing new features and continue to be vital for
service providers not sold on any of the above three
bus-line affiliated sites. OurBus, GoBuses, Tornado,
Vamoose, and Washington Deluxe are among the
many brands that use aggregator platforms but do
not appear on any of the three carrier-managed
sites. We expect more lines to appear on these sites
in the months ahead.
Although less prominent on the national travel
scene, rural and tribal operators that have in the
past mainly relied on cash payments, prepaid fare
cards, and printed schedules will gravitate toward
online booking platforms. The Rural Transit
Assistance Program (RTAP) is helping many create
the digital (GTFS) schedule feeds needed to enhance
their visibility among travelers.
These noteworthy changes set the stage for a time
of significant disruption. In addition to the above
A RedCoach bus at the carrier’s Orlando, FL, station depicts a passenger doing
work en route.
prognostications, we expect the Bipartisan
Infrastructure Bill passed in 2021 to increasingly
benefit the industry, thanks to the intensive
advocacy work of industry trade groups such as the
American Bus Association and the United
Motorcoach Association. In addition, although 2022
saw relatively few rollouts of the new Amtrak
Thruway Bus service, the network is poised to grow.
However, the extent to which rail passenger
improvement hurts intercity bus travel is hard to
predict, considering that bus and train services tend
to be complementary in some cases but not in
The study team invites readers to a free webinar on
this study on Thursday, February 23, 2023, from 2
2:50 pm CT. Click here to register.
An extensive network of bus lines once again operates from the vicinity of Canal Street within or near New York’s
Chinatown neighborhood, providing a wide array of neighborhood-based services from Midtown Manhattan. The
map shows carriers operating from this neighborhood that sells their tickets on,, or Some market their services under different names on different websites. One notable change
since early 2022 is a shift in Lucky Star’s reservation platform to
Figure 10: Carriers and routes from the vicinity of Canal Street (Chinatown) in New York
Map by Borja Gonzalez Morgado, Chaddick Instit ute
JOSEPH P. SCHWIETERMAN, PH.D., a professor of Public Service Management and
director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul
University, is a nationally known authority on transportation and urban
economics. He has testified three times on transportation issues before
subcommittees of the U.S. Congress. Schwieterman holds a Ph.D. in public
policy from the University of Chicago and is president of the Transportation
Research Forum. He is widely published on intercity bus and rail travel.
Would you like to join our intercity bus listserv? We send approximately 8 10 emails annually (no spam). Contact Abby at or call 312.362.5731.
The Chaddick Institute team took and provided all photos in this report.
ABBY MADER is the program manager for the Chaddick Institute and a
graduate student in the Sustainable Urban Development program at
DePaul University. Before her time at DePaul, Abby obtained her
bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of
Wisconsin at Green Bay. Abby is the principal cartographer for this
Outlook report, edits the bus-travel E-News releases, and is keeper our
the Chaddick Institute’s Intercity Bus Listserv.
ALLISON WOODWARD is a research associate at the Chaddick Institute and
a graduate student in the International Public Service program at DePaul
University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and
Communications from Auburn University. Before joining the university,
Allison served in the peace corps in the West African country of Benin.
Allison helped write this Outlook report and oversaw the research of
carriers providing service from the vicinity of Canal Street in New York.
The Evolution of New York Washington Intercity Bus
Service: 2000 to 2020
March 2020
Our analysis of the evolution of regionally focused intercity
bus networks highlights the New York City to Washington,
DC corridor.
Click here for a complete list of Chaddick Institute publications.
Making Connections: 2020 Outlook for the Intercity Bus
Industry in the United States
January 30, 2020
Our analysis of the state of the intercity bus industry in
2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic, which was a
time of robust expansion for many carriers.
On the Brink: Outlook for the 2021 Intercity Bus Industry
January 2021
Our widely anticipated annual review of the state of the
industry and prognosis for the future. Check out our
coverage in Bloomberg Citylab.
Routes to Recovery: 2022 Outlook for the Intercity Bus
January 2022
Our review of the recovery of bus service as the pandemic
eases and major adjustments get underway due to shifting
customer demand. Check out our coverage in Bus Ride.
The practice of allowing passengers to freely switch between carriers without a fee after a ticket was purchased
appears not to have been common in recent years.
Lucky Star is among the brands that was cleared to resume operations after the Federal crackdown of some lines
offering service from the Chinatown area in 2012. The resumption is discussed in this Boston Globe article here.
Certain OurBus options notes that trips on that brand may involve a minibus transfer at Buffalo, NY. OurBus
Toronto New York service also is shown on schedules as terminating at George Washington Bridge station.
The announcement of the winter suspension and March restoration was posted at this link by Mehagan Sun:
Domestic Line Run Buses | Getting Here | Mohegan Sun
For details on its renewed status as fully family owned line, visit About Us - Fullington Trailways
The effort to provide Milwaukee - Madison rail passenger service continues. State government policies have the
prospect that rail service will start prior to 2028 unlikely, although there is a discussion about service starting
closer to 2030. For a discussion, click here.
The long-promised Texas Central high speed rail line between Dallas and Houston has been delayed by
management changes, but won a substantial court battle in 2022 to allow it to proceed. Its opening is probably at
least a decade away. Amtrak has also depicted this corridor in its expansion plans
We thank Michael Weinman of PTSI Transportation for this insight.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.