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The cost and hassle of flying may be making it a less desirable method of travel. As a result more people may be turning to commercial buses for their transportation needs. As a recent college graduate I have traveled affordably by bus for years, so I was particularly interested in the comparison between the lines I’ve had the most experience with: Greyhound, Megabus, and BoltBus. Since it was founded in 1914, Greyhound has been a leading intercity bus service. Megabus and BoltBus, founded in 2006 and 2008, respectively, both advertise express service, free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and fares as low as a $1 for all routes. Which services in particular are people turning to?

To answer that question, Compete assessed online volumes to several bus line websites.  This analysis leverages Compete’s proprietary ability to track, normalize, and count unique consumers (i.e., no double-counting of consumers with same activity more than once in the same month).

Movers and Shakers

10 Gains in Montly Unique Visitors for Travel - Bus

The top growing Bus sites in Compete’s Travel category include Greyhound, Megabus, and BoltBus with Megabus showing a 114% site traffic increase since last year. How is Greyhound holding up against the newer bus services that offer discounted prices and more amenities?

UVs to, and

Greyhound has consistently had the most popular site. Megabus consistently comes in second, with unique visitors for July at just over a million, while BoltBus sees only about 140,000. Why are so many more people visiting Megabus when BoltBus offers essentially the same service? Megabus has over 80 station stops in North America, while BoltBus has just over 10 stops limited to the Northeast and Pacific Northwest U.S. regions. To investigate this further, Compete normalized unique visitors relative to number of station stops.

Average Number of Unique Visitors Per Station StopWhile Greyhound still ranks higher, BoltBus has more unique visitors for each of its stops than Megabus.  It looks like Megabus may only be more popular than BoltBus because they cover more ground.

End of the Line

A few pro pointers for searching for a bus line that’s right for your trip: Look for stop locations that fit your long-distance travel needs, check that they will offer all the Wi-Fi and power supply your heart could desire, then cross your fingers and hope for the $1 ticket!

Logical next steps for bus companies looking to expand this research could include:

  • Adjust for regional differences: Complete regional-specific comparisons of visitors to number of station stops given that BoltBus only runs in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest regions.
  • Quantify site traffic sources: Investigate how consumers are reaching these sites.  For example, are the searches by brand, price, or destination?
  • Quantifying site overlap: Greyhound owns all the Northwest and half of the Northeast operations of BoltBus.  Is having Greyhound as a parent helping or hurting BoltBus?

About Nicole Mengini:
Nicole is an Analyst for Compete’s Transportation Team. At Compete, Nicole is responsible for converting online consumer behavior data to competitive insights. Nicole recently graduated from Boston University with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science.