Holiday charter bus service for college students thrives
Maia Krivoruk waited two hours in a bus shelter at the University of Pittsburgh as freezing rain fell on Tuesday afternoon.
“Oh, my God,” she yelled at about 2 p.m., when she found out her wait hadn't been in vain.
The freshman, 18, said she bought a ticket for a 4:15 p.m. ride home using Pitt's charter service, Buses Home for the Holidays, but she had been waiting on standby since noon, hoping to get on the 2 p.m. bus to New York City so she could arrive home in northern New Jersey sooner.
Several Pennsylvania colleges, including Pitt, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Clarion University, offer holiday charter buses to regional destinations for their students. The post-recession economy, rising cost of gas and decline in the number of young people who own cars have contributed to an increase in demand for charter and commercial bus service during the holidays, transportation experts said.
When Pitt started its charter service in November 1994, 250 students rode buses to eight towns, Pitt spokesman John Fedele said.
This week, about 2,000 Pitt students are riding Buses Home for the Holidays to 12 locations — seven Pennsylvania towns, three cities in New York state, Washington, D.C., and Maryland — through service contracted with Mt. Nebo-based Lenzner Coach Lines, which is owned by Paramus, N.J.-based Coach USA.
Discount bus operator Megabus, whose ridership this winter holiday season is expected to be up 20 percent over last year's, is picking up a lot of the student rider slack, said Mike Alvich, spokesman for Paramus, N.J.-based Megabus, also owned by Coach.
Of Megabus' 13 hubs nationwide, the Pittsburgh stop at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, is in the top five, he said.
With its ticket prices as low as $1, free Wi-Fi, direct routes and free baggage checking for 50 pounds of luggage per passenger, Megabus has built a large clientele among young riders since the company's founding in 2006, Alvich said.
Student travelers cite the convenience and price of bus transportation compared with airline tickets as fueling their demand during the holidays.
The average national price for a round-trip, domestic airline ticket this Thanksgiving season is $415, up nearly 7 percent from last year, said Travelocity senior editor Courtney Scott.
The average price for airline travel from Pittsburgh is $421, a 12.8 percent increase over 2012. Pitt's Home for the Holidays roundtrip buses for Thanksgiving range from $85 to $130.
Pitt freshman Katie Merritt, 18, took a Pitt charter bus home to Rochester, N.Y., on Tuesday.
“Just because there is no other mode of transportation for me to get home. Greyhound takes 11 hours. Megabus doesn't go to Rochester (from here). It's expensive to fly,” she said.
This Thanksgiving, Butler Motor Transit, also owned by Coach, is providing one bus each between IUP's Punxsutawney campus and several in-state towns, and between Clarion University and Philadelphia, said Regina Rihn, sales manager.
The IUP Student Cooperative Association chartered five buses, all of which were sold out, for student travel from the Indiana Township campus to four Pennsylvania towns last week through Johnstown-based Lodestar Bus Lines & Tours Inc., said Sam Barker, IUP's director of program services.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police seize phones of some Norwin High School students
- Alleged abuse by Franciscan friar nets $8M for 88 former students
- 7 in custody after New Kensington drug raid
- Pitt to play Notre Dame 5 times over next 11 seasons
- Tomlin: Possible Steelers midseason surge won’t come easy vs. Colts
- Point Breeze couple surprised with 2nd honeymoon by Ellen DeGeneres
- Cranberry: Construction restrictions lifted on Route 228
- Tuesday - October 21, 2014
- Rookie Bryant sparks deep passing game for Steelers in victory
- Steelers players are ready for annual runway turn for charity
- 8 selected thus far for jury in Ferrante trial