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Commuters turn to buses

With fuel prices skyrocketing, bus services have seen a 32 percent hike in intercity ridership.

The Pulse is up today on news that taking the bus is suddenly en vogue.

In the age of sky-high gas prices, the answer to the question, “What’s the best way to get from New York to D.C.?” has surprisingly been: “The bus.”   

Bloomberg reports today that researchers at DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development found that bus ridership is at its highest rate since the beginning of the Great Recession. Companies like Megabus.com and BoltBus, who ferry passengers mostly between large East Coast and Midwestern cities, led the charge that saw bus ridership jump by a third in 2011.

These aren’t the yellow, steel-and-vinyl school buses of your youth. They are comfortable, climate-controlled, and equipped with Wi-Fi and electrical outlets. So that four-plus-hour drive from New York City to Washington D.C. just became another half day you can donate back to your employer, further upping the productivity of the American worker.

The buses are nice, but it’s likely that the real reason for the rediscovery of the bus by American travelers is a cost issue. BoltBus will take you from Newark, N.J.’s Penn Station to Washington D.C.’s Union station for $21. Amtrak charges around $150 for the same trip.

Cost-conscious long-haul commuters seem to have found a good alternative to the high-prices of planes, trains and automobiles. For now, at least. Bloomberg reports that fares are rising, though they’re still far less than more conventional modes of long-haul travel.

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.

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