Tech-Savvy Travelers Prefer Buses

Posted on December 30, 2009

Getting good with gadgets becomes a must for motorcoach operators as passengers increasingly expect to the connected and occupied with the Interent and digital media.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The growing availability on intercity buses of access to digital technology while traveling "may be a major factor when consumers make their long-distance transportation choices," according to a new study released today by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

The high-tech traveler has been a driving force in the continued growth of bus travel, which grew 5.1% in 2009, the third straight year bus ridership has surged, according to the DePaul University researchers. "Train traffic has been flat, while airline service declined 7% in the past year," the study reports.

"The prevalence of portable electronics is changing the dynamics of how we make travel choices," said Dr. Joseph P. Schwieterman, PhD., Director of The Chaddick Institute and the study's author. "For many passengers, the ability to freely use portable technology on a bus" is "providing a new incentive" to go by bus.

The study found that, in contrast, "On airlines, the rollout of Wi-Fi this year has been met with lackluster demand -- which some believe is due to high fees and the inconvenience of having to shut down computers and other devices for substantial periods of time during the beginning and end of flights. The study found that no more than 18% of airline travelers use portable electronic devices at any given point in a trip."

"The latest findings of academic experts further corroborate the trend of more travelers choosing to take the bus," said ABA President & CEO Peter J. Pantuso. "Technological access while traveling is a growing consumer demand, and the motorcoach industry is winning new riders every day." 

Chaddick researchers surveyed more than 6,000 passengers traveling through 14 states in recent weeks to observe the prevalence of their tech use while riding. "At any given point in the trip, nearly 40% of passengers on new Wi-Fi equipped buses are using some form of portable technology," the academic experts wrote.

For more information on the bus boom and the technology study, visit the ABA Web site.

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