Different ways to travel exist in today’s world, from planes to trains to taxis, but one particular and efficient way to get around is bus travel. Although planes are much faster and private cars are highly desirable, many commuters, travelers, and tourists can make use of bus travel for convenient, comfortable trips nearly anywhere there is a road. Chartering a bus for a tourist group, for example, is a great way for a handful of people to see the local sights in one package, and commuters who don’t want a car or don’t like traffic jams can get to and from work in a coach bus, and WiFi on a bus can be a bonus for anyone. What are some of the advantages of buses, and why are are they so popular?

Who Takes the Bus?

Bus travel goes back, at least as a concept, to the 1820s when horse-drawn buses were in use, and by the 1830s in England, steam-powered intercity buses were in service, and the bus industry has only grown since, and is much more popular than some might think, given the common use of airplanes and subways. Over 751,000,000 motorcoach passenger trips are taken every year, and all kinds of people are getting on board small charter buses, large motorcoaches, and more. The business is growing; from 2011 to 2012, for example, bus patronage grew 7.5%, which made bus travel among the fastest growing modes of transportation in the United States. Rural residents in particular make use of buses; railways might not be available to take them from one city to another, so 14 million rural Americans take motorcoaches to where they want to go, since roads are nearly everywhere and plane travel would be too expensive and impractical. Traveling business professionals, most often women, get on board buses to go from city to city or from one address to another.

Efficiency of the Industry

Another perk of bus travel is the fuel efficiency and how widespread bus stations and terminals are. One bus can take 55 cars off the road, on average, if it has nearly its full passenger capacity. Those passengers are not in their cars, so CO2 emissions are drastically reduced. And buses themselves are fuel efficient for their size; one bus can provide 206.6 passenger miles per gallon, where a car averages 27.2 miles per gallon. And across the United States, there are five times as many motorcoach terminals as there are airports, and bus terminals outnumber intercity rail terminals six to one. Combine that fact with the impressive total of 33,400 buses in the entire industry, and it is clear that bus travel is available nearly anywhere, for anyone, and bus travel can save a lot of CO2 emissions while providing transport to those who do not have a car, or those going to a location trains cannot reach.

Other Benefits of Bus Travel

Bus travel is also a major component of any area’s tourist industry. A single rental bus or chartered bus can conveniently carry a sizeable group of tourists together, and all of these passengers, once they arrive at a destination, will spend money on lodging, attractions, food, souvenirs, shops, and more, meaning that buses contribute a lot to local economies. In fact, every $1 spent on a motorcoach leads to $.15 of spending in various economic sectors, which leads to a total of $1.2 billion spent every year on tourism and travel due to buses. A particular bus might have desirable amenities on board for passengers, anything from TV screens for movies to WiFi services (useful for traveling business professionals), padded and comfortable seats, a bathroom, and possibly more. An interested tourist or traveler can ask a bus’s company what services are available on their vehicles prior to buying a ticket.

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