Bus Ridership Recovery Pegged For 2026
Back on the Bus 2024

Bus Ridership Recovery Pegged For 2026

Intercity bus traffic is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2026 even as the high-profile bus station closings continue.

“Back on the Bus,” the annual intercity bus review by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago notes ridership gains in some regions as traffic rose to roughly 85 to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The 20-page report includes a year in review for 2023 and five predictions for 2024.

Driver shortages and other problems could slow the recovery, “which will be uneven across regions, but trends are favorable.” Problems stemming from station closures will get worse before they get better and even after the recovery, the report suggests that traffic will remain marginally below 2016 levels.

"The image of legacy bus lines took a hit as bus station problems facing Greyhound and its partners continued. More downtown depots were closed and services were relocated to curbside spots or modest facilities without much or sometimes any indoor seating.”

More downtown bus stations in prominent cities are at risk of closing this year, including Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, and Orlando. They would follow recent station closings in Houston, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Tampa, among others.

The study described Little Rock, Ark., station as a “poster child for the bus-station woes now facing the industry,” with its closure last year. It’s a primary stop in the region but local government “has taken a hostile stance toward resumption of intercity bus service and derailed attempts to find a new station.”

The complete report can be found here.