This category covers establishments engaged primarily in furnishing bus charter service, except local, where such operations are principally outside a single municipality, outside one group of contiguous municipalities, and outside a single municipality and its suburban areas.
Charter Bus Industry
According to the American Bus Association, 96 percent of bus companies provide charter service, with three-fourths providing only charter service. The Motorcoach Census 2000 reported an industry-wide fleet of 44,000 that year. Of the 2,082 companies reporting, some 1,623 offered charter service.
The cost of a 40-foot motor coach was about $350,000. There were more than 2,400 sold in 2002. To maintain a 40-foot charter bus, charter companies spent an average of $12,000 per year in the early 1990s; the average operating cost for a 40-foot coach in 1996 was $1.46 per mile, including driver's wages, fuel, and normal equipment usage. By 2001, that number had risen to $1.90 per mile. Most charter bus companies charged customers—largely private groups paying for one-time trips—either by the mile or by the hour. The average per-mile rate in 1996 was $2.09, which increased to $2.51 in 2001. Drivers and mechanics were receiving higher wages as well. In 2001, 44 percent of companies paid drivers $11 per hour or more, and 55 percent paid mechanics $15 per hour and up.
According to American Bus Association (ABA) surveys, the top three events/activities used by groups for bus charters in 1998-1999 were theater shows, gaming/casinos, and sightseeing. On the down side, growth in casino charter traffic has increased the number of accidents and fatalities involving interstate bus travel on a national basis.
Future growth in the charter bus industry was favorable in the latter 1990s, based on the growing population of affluent and active senior citizens. To accommodate a more comfort-conscious ridership, charter buses were increasingly incorporating ergonomic seat designs, user-friendly lavatories, and kitchen galleys for refreshments.
In order to bring more business to the industry, marketing efforts were becoming more targeted. Specific interests were targeted in an effort to bring new travelers to charter buses. Motor Coach Industries and the ABA joined resources in...