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Convenience, amenities, cost and a growing eco-consciousness continue to be major factors for the growth of express bus services in the U.S. As their popularity grows, operations including Megabus
, and Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines subsidiary BoltBus have begun spreading from the Northeast to the Midwest, and now, to the West.
“We saw that passengers were looking for a way to get from one destination to another more conveniently,” says Timothy Stokes, spokesperson for Greyhound and BoltBus. “They wanted a different way of travel, and by piloting Bolt Bus and Greyhound Express, we have been able to provide that.”
The outcry for these types of services only continues to grow, adds Dale Moser, president/COO of Coach USA Inc., which Megabus is a subsidiary of.
“There is growth for this type of service all across North America,” he says. “We’ve been getting tremendous amounts of requests through our social networks, blogs and Internet asking for Megabus to bring our services to other parts of the U.S., where we haven’t developed it yet. There is really a pent-up need out there.”
Services and growth
Launched in 2006, with zero brand recognition and based off of a model its parent company Stagecoach Group had in place in Europe for only two years, Megabus served one million passengers in 18 months, according to Moser.
“Today, with more than 90 cities being served, we run 250 buses, traveling millions and millions of miles, and service a million customers every 38 days,” he says.
Megabus was the first to offer express bus service, featuring a yield pricing strategy. Its quick and almost instant growth was a major catalyst for other carriers to re-think their services.
This spring, Greyhound Express expanded to add 19 new markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Nashville. Through the recent expansion, Greyhound Express now provides service to nearly 70 key markets across North America and has seen a 21% increase in overall ridership since its introduction in December 2010. With more than 2.2 million customers using the service as of April 2012, Greyhound Express now offers 700 direct-service intercity pairs.
Additionally, stations along Greyhound Express routes allow travelers to connect to an established network of more than 3,800 Greyhound destinations.
Meanwhile, its subsidiary, BoltBus, which began in the Northeast in March 2008, has grown across the region, and as of May 2012, added services in the Pacific Northwest, connecting Seattle and Portland, as well as Vancouver.
“We’ve seen great success with the implementation of both of our services,” says Stokes. “With BoltBus, for example, we’ve had schedules sell out a day after we announced tickets were on sale.”