Looking for People to Interview About Bus Travel
September 21, 2011 4:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an interstate bus advocacy, lobbying, or research group. I'd like to talk to someone about how the market shifted over last 10 years, especially in the northeast. Topics for discussion: Increased ridership (possibly due to recession). Their pricing and the competitive pressures MegaBus/Chinatown exerted on, say, Greyhound. Also, issues of safety and worker rights. Have they made their rides cheaper on the backs of underpaid workers and decreased rider safety?
posted by LeonBernstein to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it's not necessarily advocacy, lobbying, or research, but here's information about bus drivers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that might point you in the right direction. Looks like there's also the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Transport Workers Union of America. I wasn't able to tell if the unions specifically include operations like Megabus or Greyhound, but I bet if they don't, they'd be able to tell you who does.
posted by stellaluna at 4:55 PM on September 21, 2011

American Bus Association is the lobbying association for the industry, although it's more than just intercity. THere's also a lot of grousing from Greyhound and other operators with fixed costs like stations about the curbside bus operators.

For an academic look at the changes in the industry, the Chaddick Institute at Depaul, which is one of the few places looking at intercity bus services: http://las.depaul.edu/chaddick/ResearchandPublications/ReturnoftheIntercityBus/index.asp
posted by waylaid at 5:11 PM on September 21, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, that last link is great. thanks so much. I've been riding MegaBus for years now and I've quite liked the service. Now I'm noticing that Greyhound's fares are dropping to compensate. I suspect Mega is non-union and I know Greyhound is organized. Interesting dilemma there. I generally think most large companies would work better with union counterparts. I also think cheap bus travel is wonderful for environmental, consumer reasons. I don't think those two things have to be opposed, but there probably is a tendency towards conflict.
posted by LeonBernstein at 5:20 PM on September 21, 2011

Why not just call some of the successful bus lines?

Companies like Google and MS didn't get lobbyists until they were attacked by others. Successful businesses presumably are often like this.
posted by sien at 6:26 PM on September 21, 2011

@LeonB: One of the main reasons Megabus and other new operators are cheaper is that they dont have the fixed costs of bus stations. It costs Greyhound a lot to maintain their stations (they have one in most large urban areas) on top of their bus fleet. Curbside operators dont have this issue (also are non-union as well) - there is a long insteresting history of ATU and Greyhound (can send you more information if you like).

Megabus and others can also add new lines if they want much more easily. Greyhound still has to maintain a nationwide network (it's worth noting that Greyhound and other intercity operators DO get some federal transit money from state DOTs to maintain intercity service that might otherwise be stripped.
posted by waylaid at 6:57 PM on September 21, 2011

They're not bus lobbying groups, but have you checked out Streetsblog and Infrastructurist? I have read a lot there about the development of cheaper intercity bus lines, and about safety problems with Chinatown buses. Bolt Bus is also a popular choice in the style of Megabus, but it's run by Greyhound, and that could be interesting to consider.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:43 PM on September 21, 2011

Last May, there was an accident south of DC by Sky Express, and I recall an interesting article or two in the Washington Post about the industry, though not the one I found and linked to, which merely discussed repeated violations of of highway safety regulations.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:15 PM on September 21, 2011

Like Measured Out... 's link above, you may check on the articles from when Greyhound and the city ("traffic concerns") forced the Boston Chinatown bus companies (Fung Wah and Lucky Star) off of the curb and into South Station. It was a Big Deal and there was a lot of local press; I found a 2005 article but thought it happened earlier...

Anyway, it covers the issues you are talking about and has names of the organizations involved.
posted by whatzit at 3:11 AM on September 22, 2011

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