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 Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

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

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

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 1,000 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 fewer than 20 workers, and generates about $4 million annually.

    • The charter bus services industry consists of about 1,000 companies, which employ about 82,000 workers and generate about $4.2 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

                                  Recent Developments

                                  Jul 15, 2024 - Employment Increases, Wages Decrease
                                  • Charter bus transportation industry employment increased slightly during the first five months of 2024 while average wages for nonsupervisory employees decreased slightly, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Charter bus transportation industry sales are forecast to increase at a 5.67% compounded annual rate from 2024 to 2028, faster than the growth of the overall economy, according to Inforum and the Interindustry Economic Research Fund, Inc.
                                  • The New York State Legislature approved a bill requiring most passengers to use seatbelts on charter buses. Federal law requires charter buses have seatbelts installed but does not require that they be used. States currently decide the use of seatbelts. Firms operating in other states may be impacted if similar legislation is passed. The New York State bill would require charter bus passengers 8 or older to use safety restraints or face a $50 fine, while police could ticket the parents of passengers between 8 and 15 if the parent or guardian was around when the violation occurred. The bill has advanced to Governor Kathy Hochul's office.
                                  • Intercity bus operators with routes that are 250 miles less are showing more interest in electric vehicles (EVs), according to Smart Cities Dive. Experts say that electric busses have not caught on with charter services because thier range is typiclly less than required for most routes and they must recharge for 3 to four hours. Charter bus companies serving universities and other institutions that prioritize sustainability are also showing more interest. “The EV bus would give a much-needed image boost,” said Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. “The industry could use that.”
                                  • Electric motorcoaches are not catching on as quickly with charter bus services compared to the city transit and the personal sectors, according to industry experts. Electric motorcoach range is inadequate for most trips, and the 3- to 4-hour recharge required in the middle of routes would double the travel time for passengers and make the trip so long that one driver would not have the legal hours to complete it. Range is not as critical for a city transit bus on fixed routes around a community because it is able to recharge on a recharging pad at each bus stop within minutes of each other, but it is for a motorcoach that needs to get its passengers to their destination 400 to 500 miles away within a 10-hour window.
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