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Study: Travelers’ use of personal electronic devices rising sharply

Posted on July 22, 2014

A new study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development reveals the use of personal electronic devices on city-to-city trips continues to rise sharply, particularly on low-cost express bus services like megabus.com.

“As opposed to airline customers who cannot surf the Internet, email, text or place phone calls during takeoff or landing, which can consume more than 40 minutes of flight time, customers traveling by an express bus service like megabus.com are able to use their devices from the moment the bus arrives to the time they depart at their destination,” said Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute and co-author of the study. “Travelers want to stay in control and that means staying digitally connected when and where they want.”

The study — the fifth in an annual series— collected data from 7,034 passengers on 106 bus, train and plane departures during February to June 2014 and made comparisons with a similar sample from 2013. The study found that the use of personal devices among passengers remains on an upward trajectory, noting the following:

“Staying connected with friends, family and co-workers while on the bus has been a priority for megabus.com since we began service in 2006,” said Mike Alvich, megabus.com’s VP, marketing and public relations. “We understand the importance for customers of staying connected while traveling and continue to invest our efforts into improving connectivity.”

“In the past year, megabus.com has nearly doubled the amount of customers using Wi-Fi onboard,” added Alvich. “Data shows that customers surf an average of 90 minutes per trip, using 15 MB per device use despite often traveling through remote areas away from cell towers, which reduces potential bandwidth. Power outlets at every seat are another convenient way for customers to stay connected on the road.”

The DePaul University study, entitled “The Personal Tech Tidal Wave: The Rising Use of Electronic Devices on Intercity Buses, Planes, & Trains: 2014 Update (July 2, 2014),” can be viewed here

“As travelers feel an ever-rising need to stay connected, technology advances appear poised to continue to transform the way Americans move from place to place,” noted Schwieterman. “The rising use of personal technology will continue to change the way we travel.”

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