Stateline: Residents Left Behind as Pandemic Hurts Bus Companies

Residents Left Behind as Pandemic Hurts Bus Companies
Jenni Bergal
April 15, 2022

Throughout the country, many people who don’t have cars or don’t drive, especially students or people with limited means, rely on intercity buses. If those routes are cut or eliminated, they may be left in the lurch.

Transportation experts consider intercity services essential infrastructure. Often, they operate in areas where there may be no alternative transportation.

And in many small towns, local charter bus operators serve school groups, clubs for older adults and other community organizations. Without them, residents may have few options if they want to plan for sporting events, church retreats or sightseeing trips.

The pandemic took a heavy toll on the bus industry.

Riders disappeared. White-collar employees worked from home. Schools taught students remotely, so there were no field trips or sports events.


“It’s been devastating. Restaurants and hotels seem to be back. Airlines are all busy. Compared to other transportation modes and the travel industry, we are still way, way behind,” said Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, an industry trade group.

It's particularly problematic for commuter bus lines, which relied on riders who lived in suburbs or small towns and rode the bus to work at bigger cities, Pantuso said.

Commuter bus ridership is only 20% to 25% of what it was before the pandemic, according to Pantuso’s group.

“In a lot of major urban areas, commuters aren’t coming back,” he said. “They’re teleworking or they’re driving because they don’t feel comfortable on a bus or metro.”

Charter bus companies are faring better, but still are operating at about 60% of capacity, Pantuso said.

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About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.


Melanie Hinton, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, ABA
Office: (202) 218-7220
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)