Carrying more passengers than the rail and airline industries, the motorcoach industry annually carries 860 million passengers in the United States and Canada.
That is according to the American Bus Association's Motorcoach Census 2000, the first full-scale profile of the industry in nearly two decades.
"We are letting everyone know who and what the bus industry is," said Peter Pantuso, president of the ABA. "It will help us move forward and work with those who have an impact and influence on the industry."
Information gathered on more than 2,000 motorcoach companies shows that most companies (90%) are small businesses operating fewer than 25 buses. Those companies run about 19,000 buses, 40% of the total bus fleet. Seventy-five percent of the small companies run fewer than 10 buses.
More than 50% of the passengers are carried by 50 large companies that operate more than 100 buses. Those companies operate about 11,000 buses, 25% of the total fleet. Companies operating more than 100 buses carried more than 10 million passengers in 1999.
The motorcoach industry, made up of about 4,000 companies and 44,000 buses, offers a variety of services. Half of the industry's 2.6 billion traveled miles was spent on scheduled intercity service. One-third of the mileage was spent on charters and the rest on airport shuttles, tours, sightseeing, contract commuters and other services.
Reports from 630 carriers show that 35% of known motorcoaches traveled about 800 million miles last year. Based on mileage for about 11,400 motorcoaches, each vehicle averaged about 50,300 miles.
The annual fuel consumption per motorcoach (based on 540 responses) averaged 9,000 gallons and the average fuel consumption rate was 5.88 miles per gallon.
The survey also compiled employment information from about 1,400 carriers. Those carriers employ about 90,000 with smaller carriers reporting more employees per motorcoach than large companies.
The survey will allow for more accurate research to be done on the motorcoach industry, Pantuso said. Upcoming research may include a look at the impact of motorcoach travel on any given area, the impact of motorcoaches on reducing congestion and a detailed economic analysis, he said.
Information for the survey, compiled by transportation firm R.L. Banks & Associates, was retrieved by mail surveys submitted by 1,000 motorcoach operators. Recent profiles provided information on the remaining 1,030. The 2,000 respondents represent about 30% of the 6,900 known motorcoach operators in the U.S. and Canada.