Competition from the Curb Survey of Passengers on Discount Curbside Bus Operators in Eastern and Midwestern U.S. Cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, ridership - drivers


discount bus operators, U.S. cities, passenger survey


To foster a greater understanding of the composition and preferences of travelers served by discount curbside bus operators, this study summarizes the results of a survey of such passengers. The study compares the characteristics of passengers using the two largest operators, Bolt-Bus and Megabus, with those using conventional bus lines such as Greyhound. Surveys were administered in the three most heavily served curbside bus markets in the East and Midwest of the United States—six cities in total—and the result was a cumulative sample of 1,025 responses. Curbside bus service was shown to have generated much new travel, with newly generated trips accounting for 22.0% of all passengers. In the East, however, curbside bus service is taking many travelers from passenger trains. More than a third of those surveyed (34.0%) report that they would have ridden trains had curbside buses not been available. In all markets surveyed, ridership heavily comprised passengers in the group 18 to 25 years of age and was overwhelmingly made up of passengers traveling for pleasure or personal matters rather than for business. When the findings are interpreted broadly, they support the notion that the curbside bus phenomenon is not primarily the result of a shift in market share from conventional bus lines. The evidence instead suggests that curbside bus service should be regarded as a new mode that attracts most of its passengers from commercial flights, trains, and private automobiles and that it has grown dramatically, despite the relative lack of business travelers.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.