According to the American Bus Association Foundation’s 2020 Motorcoach Census, the U.S. and Canadian motorcoach industries were decimated by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
The pandemic continues to create a hardship for the industry as it struggles to recover from devastating business and ridership losses. The North American motorcoach industry ended the year with of 1,873 companies that operated 30,860 motorcoaches, which was a 23.7% loss from 2019. In the U.S., motorcoach companies fell from 2,111 to 1,717 and the number of coaches operated went from 32,474 down to 27,753 as several companies went out of business.
In Canada, the results were just as bleak with more than half of Canadian motorcoach companies going out of business from 343 to 156, with less than half of the countries motorcoaches operating — falling from 6,042 coaches on the road to 3,107 in 2020.
In 2020, passenger trips fell a whopping 76.7% from 2019’s healthy 535 million down to 124 million with a drop of 61.9 billion passenger miles down to 19 billion, which came to 677 million miles traveled.
Employment in the industry fell from 75,200 in 2019 down to 49,430 in 2020 because of pandemic downsizing and businesses closing their doors permanently.
“The COVID pandemic took a vibrant healthy industry and brought it to its knees,” said ABA Foundation President Peter Pantuso. “In 2019, the motorcoach industry moved nearly 600 million passengers, which was on par with the domestic airline industry, and now we’re down to 124 million. The industry lost a lot of small, family- and minority-owned businesses over the past two years and we continue to struggle to rebuild as the pandemic continues to mutate.”
As the federal government and states begin loosening travel restrictions and health mandates, the motorcoach industry hopes better times are ahead since more than 90% of the industry runs charter services, which relies on school and family trips. Commuter and scheduled services have also been adversely affected as business continue their work-from-home policies.
“We are hoping as the world starts to get back to traveling and working in the office again that the industry will pick up speed, however it will take years to return to our 2019 levels of business,” said Pantuso.
The report, including full methodology, is available here.