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An intercity bus service or intercity coach service, also called a long-distance, express, over-the-road, commercial, long-haul, or highway bus or coach service, is a public transport service using coaches to carry passengers significant distances between different cities, towns, or other populated areas. Unlike a transit bus service, which has frequent stops throughout a city or town, an intercity bus service generally has a single stop at one location in or near a city, and travels long distances without stopping at all. Intercity bus services may be operated by government agencies or private industry, for profit and not for profit. Intercity coach travel can serve areas or countries with no train services, or may be set up to compete with trains by providing a more flexible or cheaper alternative.
Intercity bus services are of prime importance in lightly populated rural areas that often have little or no public transportation.
Intercity bus services are one of four common transport methods between cities, not all of which are available in all places. The others are by airliner, train, and private automobile
Route And Operation
An intercity coach service may depart from a bus station with facilities for travellers or from a simple roadside bus stop. A coachway interchange is a term (in the United Kingdom) for a stopping place on the edge of a town, with connecting local transport. Park and ride facilities allow passengers to begin or complete their journeys by automobile. Intercity bus routes may follow a direct highway or freeway/motorway for shortest journey times, or travel via a scenic route for the enjoyment of passengers.
Intercity buses may run less frequently and with fewer stops than a transit bus service. One common arrangement is to have several stops at the beginning of the trip, and several near the end, with the majority of the trip non-stop on a highway. Some stops may have service restrictions, such as “boarding only” (also called “pickup only”) and “discharge only” (also called “set-down only”). Routes aimed at commuters may have most or all scheduled trips in the morning heading to an urban central business district, with trips in the evening mainly heading toward suburbs.
Intercity coaches may also be used to supplement or replace another transport service, for example when a train or airline route is not in service.
By 1997, intercity bus transportation accounted for only 3.6% of travel in the United States. In the late 1990s, however, Chinatown bus lines that connected New York with Boston and Philadelphia’s Chinatowns began operating. They became popular with non-Chinese college students and others who wanted inexpensive transportation, and between 1997 and 2007 Greyhound lost 60% of its market share in the northeast United States to the Chinatown buses. During the following decade, new bus lines such as Megabus and BoltBus emulated the Chinatown buses’ practices of low prices and curbside stops on a much larger scale, both in the original Northeast Corridor and elsewhere, while introducing yield management techniques to the industry.
By 2010 curbside buses’ annual passenger volume had risen by 33% and they accounted for more than 20% of all bus trips. One analyst estimated that curbside buses that year carried at least 2.4 billion passenger miles in the Northeast Corridor, compared to 1.7 billion passenger miles for Amtrak trains. Traditional depot-based bus lines also grew, benefiting from what the American Bus Association called “the Megabus effect”, and both Greyhound and its subsidiary Yo! Bus, which competed directly with the Chinatown buses, benefited after the federal government shut several Chinatown lines down in June 2012.
Between 2006 and 2014, American intercity buses focused on medium-haul trips between 200 and 300 miles; airplanes performed the bulk of longer trips and automobiles shorter ones. For most medium-haul trips curbside bus fares were less than the cost of automobile gasoline, and one tenth that of Amtrak. Buses are also four times more fuel-efficient than automobiles. Their Wi-Fi service is also popular; one study estimated that 92% of Megabus and BoltBus passengers planned to use an electronic device. New lower fares introduced by Greyhound on traditional medium-distance routes and rising gasoline prices have increased ridership across the network and made bus travel cheaper than all alternatives.