Luxury Coach & Transportation

October 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION OCTOBER 2018 37 Megabus unit, revenue-per-bus mile rose 3.2%. In short, conditions ap- pear to be improving. Oil is once again trading around $70 per barrel, which plays to the advantage of fuel-sipping buses compared to less e•cient cars and planes. Our analysis suggests that passenger tra•c on scheduled inter- city carriers nationwide remains in the 60 to 65 million range, and that tra•c was likely up slightly — per- haps 1% — in 2017. Business Class Boom A big story since the start of 2017 has been new premium services, including business-class oƒerings. „ese services are intended to capitalize on the air- port "hassle factor" and consumers' desire to avoid driving amid worsening congestion. Concord Coach and C&J Bus expanded business-class service between northern New England and New York. Texas' Vonlane, which has luxurious 22-seat buses, including four seats in a small conference room, launched a Fort Worth-to-Austin ser- vice, complementing its Texas Triangle service. TripperBus rolled out "Elite" business-class service between New York and the nation's capital, and Red- Coach enhanced its expansive intra- Florida network with a new overnight business-class service from Miami to Tallahassee, to give travelers an early start to their destinations. „e most heavily publicized new service of the year, Cabin, launched in July between Santa Monica, Calif., and San Francisco. Originally piloted in 2016 as "Sleepbus," Cabin describes itself as a moving hotel, featuring private sleeping cabins that allow pas- sengers to lie šat, while also oƒering onboard lounges with conventional seating. Cabin's attendants work to keep passengers comfortable while also positioning themselves as a lifestyle and hospitality brand — and one making a bold shift away from the standard seating con›guration used by other premium providers. Cabin operates several times a week, with an 11 p.m. departure and 7 a.m. projected arrival in both northbound and south- bound directions. Enhanced coordination between Amtrak and motorcoach lines, mean- while, indicates both types of trans- portation providers see untapped and Washington. „e historic carrier also launched new routes linking Bos- ton to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. via Hartford, Conn. and the George Washington Bridge Station in northern Manhattan. Both carriers continue to share space in most of the terminals previously used for Pool service. Staking A Claim For Market Share Other bus lines are also staking their claim to more of the Northeast market. BoltBus recently extended its service to Richmond, Va., and Megabus added routes to Annapolis, Md. and Norfolk/ Virginia Beach. Peter Pan added new departures as well. „e impetus for this appears to be improving ›nances. As recently as the 2017 ›scal year, which ended in March of that year, FirstGroup's Greyhound year-over-year revenues dropped 2.2% in U.S. dollars. During the ›rst six months of the 2018 ›scal year, which ended last Septem- ber, it saw a 1.2% gain in revenue, despite major weather-related disrup- tions in Florida and Texas. Scotland-based Stagecoach Group reported a 2.4% drop in revenue from its North American operations during its 2017 f iscal year, which also ended in April 2017. However, performance improved sharply during the f irst six months of the present f iscal year, which ended in October. Total revenues fell 1.3%, but margins improved from 6.7% to 8.3%, and like-for-like revenues on this continent rose 0.1%. On its matic moves as well, many coming in the wake of the heavily publicized termination of the Pool Agreement between Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines last September. „is agree- ment, having been approved by federal agencies in 1997 and 1998, allowed the carriers to coordinate schedules and share revenues with antitrust immu- nity. „e Pool Agreement governed just four corridors — Boston to Albany, N.Y.; Boston to New York; New York to Philadelphia; and New York to Wash- ington, D.C. — but they were outsized revenue generators that encompassed prominent intermediate stops. „e notable upside of this agree- ment's adoption is it allowed pas- sengers to freely switch between departures with minimal hassle — a convenience that permitted carriers to compete more eƒectively with Am- trak and airlines. Passengers enjoyed service at regular intervals, often hourly, in major corridors. However, the downsides gradually grew more severe. „e agreement proved administratively complex, created di•culties with e-ticketing, and added complications to providing guaranteed seating to all ticketed passengers. With the Pool's elimination, Grey- hound and Peter Pan are once again head-to-head competitors. Each has rolled out e-ticketing (with boarding passes usable on smart phones), and Greyhound has added signi›cant capac- ity on most major Northeast Corridor routes, including New York to Boston DEPARTURES NYC Tech-oriented bus lines and startups that use crowdsourcing and dynamic scheduling to attract new markets are beginning to take hold.

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