Charter Bus Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Quarterly Insight, Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 1,100 charter bus firms in the US provide long-distance and local transport on the client’s schedule. Charter bus firms do not operate regular fixed schedules or routes and typically do not engage in scenic or sightseeing transport. Customers include schools, churches and religious organizations, civic groups, senior living centers, businesses (retreats and conferences), government, event planners (festivals, sports competitions, conventions), sports teams, performing arts groups, and individuals (weddings, parties, family trips).

Crashes and Passenger Injury

Accidents involving injuries or fatalities create liability for charter bus services and damage their reputation with prospective customers.

Volatile Fuel Prices

Low mileage per gallon for charter buses makes firms susceptible to increases in fuel prices.

Technology on Buses

Buses are increasingly equipped with a variety of technology related to operations, safety and customer experience.

Industry size & Structure

A typical charter bus services firm operates out of a single location, employs 28-29 workers, and generates about $3-4 million annually.

    • The charter bus services industry consists of about 1,100 companies, which employ about 32,900 workers and generate about $4 billion annually.
    • The industry operates about 33,000 motorcoaches with the average firm operating 11 vehicles.
    • The average small motorcoach firm operates a fleet of up to 25 vehicles and makes about 88 million passenger trips per year. Small firms account for 15.5% of passenger trips and 47% of passenger miles.
    • Mid-sized firms operate a fleet of 25-99 vehicles and make about 87 million passenger trips annually. Mid-sized firms account for 15.5% of passenger trips and 27% of passenger miles.
    • Large firms operate a fleet of 100 or more vehicles and make about 398 million passenger trips per year. Large firms account for 69% of passenger trips but just 26% of passenger miles.
    • Most companies are small, independent operators - 90% have a single location and 68% employ less than 20 workers.
    • Large companies include US Coachways, USA BusCharter, and Dattco. BusBank schedules clients for independent charter bus firms, and doesn’t own or operate buses.
                                  Industry Forecast
                                  Charter Bus Services Industry Growth
                                  Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                  Coronavirus Update

                                  May 24, 2022 - Industry Rebound Far From Complete
                                  • Charter bus companies were still operating at about 60% of capacity as of late April, according to Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association (ABA). The industry is also suffering from a labor shortage. The number of motorcoach drivers nationwide fell an estimated 62% between February 2020 and December 2021, according to the ABA.
                                  • Local leaders and health officials are struggling with changing conditions as they manage their mask mandates. The city of Philadelphia, PA, reinstated in mid-April a mandate requiring a mask to be worn in indoor public spaces, only to cancel it within days due to what city board of health members called "decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts." Officials are again requiring masks to be worn on all public transit within Los Angeles County, CA, including buses, trains, taxis, and ride-hailing service vehicles. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that the order is based on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's opinion that mask-wearing on transit remains an essential step in preventing spread of COVID-19.
                                  • Hawaii, the last US state with a mask mandate in place, allowed the mandate to expire on March 25. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance recommends that people continue to wear masks indoors in communities with high levels of Covid-19. The agency last week said that more than 90% of US residents are now in a location with low or medium Covid-19 community levels. Charter bus services are likely to benefit if schools, other organizations, and individuals take more trips.
                                  • Charter bus industry revenue decreased to $2.6 billion in 2020 from about $15.3 billion in 2019 but the industry is expected to have earned $7 billion in revenue in 2021, according to Peter Pantuso, President and CEO of the American Bus Association.
                                  • Charter bus services in some areas are benefiting from the shortage of school bus drivers. The lack of available bus drivers in Arizona has forced the Notre Dame Prep school football team to hire private charter buses to travel to games this season. The number of charter buses needed by the school to transport players, coaches, cheerleaders, and adults to supervise, has increased. “We had to get double the amount of charter buses that we would normally get,” said Lisa Johnston, finance director at Notre Dame Prep. “Usually, we would take two or three (school) buses, now we have to get four to six (charter) buses just to send people to these games.”
                                  • Charter bus company Storer Coachways has converted their busses into full-service mobile coronavirus testing sites. Clinicians can administer and collect up to 700 COVID-19 tests a day on the busses. The first bus went into service as a testing site in December 2020 and 15 busses, 13 full-sized charter busses and two mini mobile units that can be used across 15 California counties, were available by early March. Storer Coachways Vice President Sarah Storer says that the busses can eventually be used as mobile vaccine sites and, when the pandemic ends, Bus Test Express will continue to serve as medical clinics.
                                  • The drop in bus travel is raising concerns about the potential long-term damage to an essential transport method for millions of lower-income consumers. Greyhound said that it is operating less than half its normal bus routes during the pandemic, while revenues have fallen nearly 60%.
                                  • Some of the same concerns that consumers have regarding air travel extend to bus transport. The charter bus industry responded by promoting its equipment safety features including seats that are high-backed and facing forward as limiting transmission risk. It’s also informing consumers about airflow and filtration systems that circulate fresh air.
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