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Intercity Bus Travel Expected To Go Up This Holiday Season

By Mina Bloom | December 16, 2015 11:39am
 Intercity bus travel is expected to go up 1 - 2 percent, according to the Chaddick Institute.
Intercity bus travel is expected to go up 1 - 2 percent, according to the Chaddick Institute.
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Courtesy/Jeff Carrion

CHICAGO — Intercity buses may be a little more crowded than usual this holiday season — so agencies are warning commuters to overestimate their travel times in the coming weeks.

Over a 12-day period that includes Christmas and New Years, intercity bus travel — which includes city-to-city lines like Megabus and Greyhound — is projected to go up 1 - 2 percent compared to last year, according to data released by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.

The busiest day is expected to be Dec. 23, which is projected to see 311,538 passengers — 40 percent more than normal Wednesdays this time of year, according to the data. 

The second busiest is expected to be Dec. 28, which will see 280,000 passengers.

Christmas Day, on the other hand, won't be nearly as crowded. Data shows that it's one of the more lightly-traveled holidays.

"Travel by bus will be heaviest just before and after the Christmas holiday, but somewhat lighter before and after New Years Day," said Marisa Schulz, associate director of the Chaddick Institute.

Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute and professor at DePaul, said there are a few reasons for the increase in intercity bus travel: It's cheaper and more fuel-efficient than driving or flying, and people have been traveling more in groups.

"Travelers increasingly want to bring suitcases stuffed with gifts with them on their outbound trip, which is good news for bus lines, which are able to accommodate their baggage for free," said Schwieterman.

The Chaddick Institute used its own bus data set, as well as data from Wanderu.com, which tracks online bus ticket sales. The full report can be found here.

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