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CHAPTER 5 STATUS OF THE sit programs using Section 5311(f) funding. In many NATIONAL NETWORK cases the replacement service was not as compre- hensive or as frequent, but coverage was maintained This section is intended to provide some addi- for many of those depending on the service. In many tional information regarding the current status of the cases the replacement carriers were regional private U.S. intercity bus network, going beyond the state pro- for-profit intercity bus firms, but in some cases rural gram responses to the survey. Although the state in- transit programs also sought to initiate service that tercity bus program managers did provide some basic would connect with the remaining intercity bus ser- information about the intercity bus services in their vice or meet rural intercity needs. state, it is useful to provide some overall information During the period following the restructuring, on the recent changes to intercity services that may Greyhound did not generally apply for Section 5311(f) need to be addressed through Section 5311(f) program funding for its own operations (except for continu- activities. ing projects in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas), but instead focused on working with other intercity RESTRUCTURING OF THE bus carriers to facilitate replacement (or new) rural GREYHOUND NETWORK intercity bus routes operated by other firms or tran- In terms of change in the national network, the sit agencies that would be funded by Section 5311(f) one major change that was most commonly identified services. This included development of a rural bus by the state program managers was the Greyhound program manual detailing the possibilities and re- network restructuring that took place in 20042005. quirements for an operator to use Greyhound unsubsi- The decline in travel following the events of 9/11/01 dized miles to count as local operating match under the had continued, and Greyhound Lines decided to ad- FTA Pilot Project funding method, to sell Greyhound dress changes in demand comprehensively by restruc- interline tickets, and to connect with Greyhound ser- turing their network. This was done on a regional basis vices in Greyhound facilities (obtain what is called over a 2-year period, beginning with the north cen- a "terminal license"). The vision is that other regional tral region of the country. In general the effort was or rural operators using Section 5311(f) funding can directed at reducing or eliminating services with low replace the rural service that is uneconomic for Grey- revenue levels and/or high costs. hound, and that by offering meaningful connections to The first routes to be eliminated were long routes the national network, Greyhound (or other national (high costs) serving smaller population centers (low network carriers) can continue to serve rural cus- revenues). Another aspect of the restructuring in- tomers as they travel beyond their immediate region. volved a shift of resources (buses and drivers) from Greyhound Lines had been owned by Laidlaw, more rural services with many stops to more express Inc. (and its successor Laidlaw International, Inc.) routes linking large population centers. Most services since 1999, and in 2007 Laidlaw was purchased by now operate on the interstate system or similar high- FirstGroup plc of the United Kingdom. Greyhound ways. This was based on previous experience show- was included in the purchase, and FirstGroup has ing that the ridership gains from limited-stop service made Greyhound into one of the operating units of more than offset the ridership losses on rural routes. FirstAmerica, which also includes FirstTransit (tran- Another aspect of the restructuring was the elim- sit management contracting) and FirstSchool (con- ination of most Greyhound Section 5311(f) funded tracted schoolbus) services. Greyhound has also been services. Many such routes were dropped with little affected by the national economic recession since late notice in mid-grant. Greyhound's rationale was that 2008, and the firm has continued to monitor service because of the local match requirements, the combi- profitability closely, adjusting service levels to main- nation of fare revenue and Section 5311(f) operating tain profitability. Generally this has meant reducing assistance did not provide adequate revenue to jus- frequencies rather than eliminating entire routes, tify continuing the service. The overall restructuring although service changes do occur. The firm has made effort by Greyhound affected virtually every state as major changes in management and administrative service to almost 1,000 points was eliminated. staffing to reduce overhead costs and consolidate However, in many states other carriers expanded functions with other FirstAmerica business units. or initiated service to replace some of the lost Grey- Some familiar regional carrier names have been hound service, often with support from the state tran- eliminated, including Vermont Transit, Carolina 22
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Trailways, and TNM&O. Three Greyhound-owned · Burlington Trailways: Service between Denver, regional brands remain: Valley Transit (in Texas), Colorado, and Omaha, Nebraska, supported in Crucero USA, and Autobuses Americanos USA. part by Colorado Department of Transportation Through the adjustments in service and administra- Section 5311(f) capital and administrative tive costs the firm remained profitable through 2009 funding. Service across Iowa and Illinois sup- and 2010, although profitability did decline. ported by Section 5311(f) funding. · Jefferson Lines: Service on multiple routes in · Revenue down 13.9%4 in calendar 2009 com- Minnesota, some of which replaced Greyhound pared to 2008 due to general reduction in travel. service, supported in part by Minnesota De- · Revenue miles reduced 11.4% in calendar 2009 partment of Transportation Section 5311(f) (often on least productive services--often funding. Section 5311(f) funding also used rural/small-town, non-interstate routes). to support rural intercity routes in Missouri, · Profits down, but overall the reduction in costs Arkansas, and Iowa. (staff reduction of 1,845, fewer miles) have · Northwestern Trailways: Service on multiple kept firm profitable. routes in Washington, supported in part by · Firm is now investing in new coaches, terminal Section 5311(f) funding provided through the improvements. Washington State Department of Transporta- The firm began investing in equipment again after tion. Service in Idaho supported by the Idaho a lapse of several years, with an order for 102 new Pre- Department of Transportation using Section vost coaches in 2009 (most of which have been allo- 5311(f) funding. cated to the extremely competitive Northeast market), · Salt Lake Express: Expanded service in north- and a major rebuilding project for 250 existing ern Utah and Idaho. coaches in 20102011. The other bright spot for Grey- · Fullington Trailways: Section 5311(f) services hound has been the growth of Bolt brand services in in rural Pennsylvania. the Northeast. Greyhound and Peter Pan Trailways · Capital of Alabama: Section 5311(f) funded are joint owners of this service designed to compete services in rural Alabama. with "Chinatown" buses, Megabus, and numerous · Miller Trailways: Service to thirty points, most independent carriers offering low-fare, express ser- in Indiana, provided with Section 5311(f) sup- vices in the busy Washington-New York-Boston port from Indiana Department of Transporta- corridor. Bolt uses new buses, with pickups at curb- tion. Links also provided to Michigan and side locations (rather than bus terminals), has low Kentucky. fares, and wi-fi and computer power plugs on-board. · Black Hills Stage Lines/Arrow Trailways: Sec- Ridership growth has been ahead of expectations for tion 5311(f) services in Colorado, and service this service. A similar service branded as "NeOn" is to Wyoming. also offered between New York City and Toronto. · Indian Trails: Section 5311(f) services in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, new unsubsidized Michigan Flyer services SERVICE REPLACEMENT AND EXPANSION to Detroit Metro Airport. OF RURAL REGULAR-ROUTE SERVICE · C & J Trailways: Services in New Hampshire BY PRIVATE INTERCITY CARRIERS from Dover and Portsmouth to Boston and In the wake of the Greyhound restructuring, a Logan Airport. number of regional private intercity carriers have · Concord Trailways/Dartmouth Coach/Boston shown increased interest in providing regular-route Express: Expanded services from New Hamp- service, particularly if assisted by states using Sec- shire and Maine to Boston, Logan Airport, and tion 5311(f) funding. The survey effort for this study New York City. has identified many operating projects, which are This list may not be exhaustive or complete, but described elsewhere in the report, but some key the point is that there are a number of private inter- examples by carrier include: city bus operators that have worked with state DOTs to fill gaps left by industry restructuring, and that 4FirstGroup Annual Report and Accounts 2010, Operating and much of this service serves rural stops meeting the Financial Review, p. 15. requirements of Section 5311(f). At the same time, 23
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Source: Contiguous United States Intercity Rail and Bus Route Map [Map]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.aibra.org/pdf/usmap.pdf Figure 5-1 National intercity bus network. these carriers are members of the National Bus Traf- EXPANSION OF REGULAR-ROUTE SERVICE: fic Association and offer interline tickets and services "CURBSIDE" OPERATORS that integrate these services with the unsubsidized national intercity bus network. While there has been much attention paid in the Figure 5-1 provides a map of this national net- press to the resurgence of the intercity bus, most of work, as compiled by Michael Buiting at the Amer- this has been a result of the increase in providers ican Intercity Bus Riders Association (AIBRA) and services in the Northeast providing city-to-city website (www.aibra.org/pdf/usmap.pdf). This map express services between curbside locations near is probably the most comprehensive inventory of the key destinations and other transportation terminals. routes and stops that make up the national intercity The service model is based on the so-called "China- surface network. It includes Greyhound, Amtrak, town" bus services, which originally ran between the independent carriers, and airport ground operators Chinatown commercial areas in major Northeastern providing scheduled intercity service at least 3 days cities, picking up and dropping off passengers at per week. It does not include local, commuter, or curbside, with limited stops and very low fares. A demand-response services. It does include both ser- map of these services is provided in Figure 5-2. vices interlining with Greyhound, and those that do This service model has now been copied and not interline. It is a volunteer effort, but is generally developed by many carriers, including Bolt Bus maintained and up-to-date. This map illustrates that and Megabus. These services typically offer lower there is a continuing national network. Table 5-1 sum- fares, require reservations made through their web- marizes the number of points served in each state, sites, and may offer some quality features not nor- based on the AIBRA inventory. State-by-state detail mally found on intercity services, such as wi-fi and is available on the website. computer plug-ins, and on-board movies. These 24
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Table 5-1 Number of points served in each state. State Total Stops Stops Served by Amtrak Stops Served Only by Amtrak Alabama 18 3 0 Arizona 39 14 2 Arkansas 28 5 2 California 236 155 73 Colorado 56 13 2 Connecticut 32 13 0 Delaware 4 3 0 District of Columbia 1 1 0 Florida 64 29 9 Georgia 41 5 2 Idaho 40 11 5 Illinois 61 35 16 Indiana 45 11 5 Iowa 54 7 1 Kansas 17 6 4 Kentucky 13 5 3 Louisiana 18 9 3 Maine 46 17 3 Maryland 21 10 1 Massachusetts 55 11 2 Michigan 108 46 12 Minnesota 90 8 0 Mississippi 29 10 4 Missouri 43 12 9 Montana 53 12 11 Nebraska 34 5 3 Nevada 11 4 2 New Hampshire 29 14 3 New Jersey 34 12 7 New Mexico 27 10 4 New York 270 29 10 North Carolina 35 17 4 North Dakota 21 7 2 Ohio 36 7 2 Oklahoma 19 5 1 Oregon 64 39 4 Pennsylvania 154 24 13 Rhode Island 6 3 0 South Carolina 23 11 4 South Dakota 19 0 0 Tennessee 36 2 1 Texas 194 23 5 Utah 23 6 1 Vermont 11 11 6 Virginia 35 20 2 Washington 70 32 4 West Virginia 18 10 8 Wisconsin 52 29 2 Wyoming 30 0 0 Total 2,463 771 257 25
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Source: USA No Frills Express Bus Route Map [Map]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.aibra.org/pdf/ctownmap.pdf Figure 5-2 Curbside operator bus network. services are not generally a concern of state gov- participation in Section 5311(f) program consulta- ernments, as they run between the largest urban tion and applications, but over time they may well areas (not eligible for Section 5311(f) funding) expand the market, and could potentially affect and do not desire terminal facilities. Megabus ser- both the traditional carriers and rural services vices in the Midwest follow this same service funded by Section 5311(f) by competing for some model, and do serve smaller cities, but virtually all of the same customers. of their stops are either university towns or large urbanized areas. EXPANSION OF RURAL SERVICE: State program managers are generally aware of "AIRPORT" OPERATORS these services, but have no programmatic reason to be involved with them (except through the con- The other growth area for intercity service is less sultation process). However, a number of smaller well publicized, and may be of more interest to state urban areas and even rural places are now served transportation program managers. Long-distance by curbside operators that have expanded well be- airport providers from small towns to major hub air- yond the Northeast, or that have arisen in other ports are the growth sector in rural areas in many regions. As in the development path of the "Chi- places. These operators are starting to be identified natown" buses, these operators have focused on in state plan inventories and through the consulta- particular ethnic groups initially (Hispanic or Asian), tion process, and may be both significant providers but are open to other customers, and provide in- of rural intercity service connections, and a source formation and often ticketing on the Internet. They of potential providers to meet identified rural needs. may be difficult to identify or contact regarding Their service model is more varied than the typical 26
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intercity bus model, with the following characteris- Figure 5-3, also from the AIBRA website, pro- tics. Generally, they: vides a partial inventory of some of the major long distance airport providers, focusing on scheduled · Use smaller vehicles; services. If anything, this map understates the · Require reservations and do not operate if no passenger trips are scheduled; amount of service provided by this sector, because · Usually have scheduled stop locations, but many providers do not meet the threshold of sched- also deviate for pickups and dropoffs; uled service used by AIBRA. In addition, these · May offer customers the option of alternative firms are not easily identified through traditional in- destinations such as major medical centers or tercity bus information sources. The best source of campus areas; information is the airport management, as the air- · Vary frequencies with demand--services may ports usually require registration of ground trans- be less than daily, or hourly 7 days per week; portation providers. Often information about these · Have long routes--perhaps several hours; firms is available on the airport websites, and the · Have higher fares than standard intercity bus authorities may have more data about registered (on a per passenger-mile basis); providers available if contacted. · Do not interline or connect with the national intercity network, but service large airports; and CONCLUSIONS · May be carrying more passengers in a corridor than conventional intercity bus services--there This brief overview of the status of intercity bus is very limited actual data because of opera- services is intended to provide more context to the tor concerns about competition, and there is assessment of the state responses to the survey, and no reporting requirement. to provide more information for use in developing Source: USA Scheduled Intercity Ground Transportation to Airports Map [Map]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.aibra.org/pdf/airportmap.pdf Figure 5-3 Airport operator bus network. 27