Connected travel on the rise
A new study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development reveals the use of personal electronic devices on city-to-city trips continues to rise sharply
“As opposed to airline customers who cannot surf the Internet, email, text or place phone calls during takeoff or landing, which can consume more than 40 minutes of flight time, customers traveling by an express bus service like megabus.com are able to use their devices from the moment the bus arrives to the time they depart at their destination,” Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Travelers want to stay in control and that means staying digitally connected when and where they want.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
The study — the fifth in an annual series by the Institute — collected data from 7,034 passengers on 106 bus, train and plane departures during February-June 2014 and made comparisons with a similar sample from 2013. The study found that the use of personal devices among passengers remains on an upward trajectory, noting the following:
• Express, city-to-city buses services (such as megabus.com) experienced the fastest increase in technology use. More than 59 percent of passengers on low-cost, express bus lines were “powered up”— an increase from 46.4 percent last year — a rate that outdistances Amtrak, conventional bus and air travel by a wide margin. This is the first time in five years that low-cost, city-to-city express bus service has significantly exceeded that of all other modes.
• The ability to use devices continues to stimulate the demand for bus and train travel, which have features highly desirable to those placing a premium on the ability to work or stay entertained while traveling.
• Nearly 90 percent of passengers use electronic devices at some point during their trips.
• Technology use on airlines remained virtually flat and continues to lag behind other modes, suggesting that the relaxation of the FAA policy on the use of personal electronic devices is having little effect. The new policy allows the use of certain devices during takeoffs and landings but appears to have been greeted unenthusiastically by flyers who are still unable to connect to Wi-Fi or 3G/4G systems, send text messages or place phone calls.
“Staying connected with friends, family and co-workers while on the bus has been a priority for megabus.com since we began service in 2006,” Mike Alvich, megabus.com’s vice president of marketing and public relations, said in a statement. “We understand the importance for customers of staying connected while traveling and continue to invest our efforts into improving connectivity. In the past year, megabus.com has nearly doubled the amount of customers using Wi-Fi onboard. Data shows that customers surf an average of 90 minutes per trip, using 15 MB per device use despite often traveling through remote areas away from cell towers, which reduces potential bandwidth. Power outlets at every seat are another convenient way for customers to stay connected on the road.”
The DePaul University study, entitled “The Personal Tech Tidal Wave: The Rising Use of Electronic Devices on Intercity Buses, Planes, & Trains: 2014 Update (July 2, 2014)” is posted at http://las.depaul.edu/centers-and-institutes/chaddick-institute-for-metropolitan-development/research-and-publications/pages/default.aspx.
“As travelers feel an ever-rising need to stay connected, technology advances appear poised to continue to transform the way Americans move from place to place,” Schwieterman said. “The rising use of personal technology will continue to change the way we travel.”
Megabus.com, a subsidiary of Coach USA, launched in April 2006 and is one of the largest city-to-city express bus service providers in North America. In addition to affordable fares, megabus.com says it offers customers state-of-the-art, green-certified double-decker buses with free Wi-Fi, power outlets, seat belts, restrooms and are wheelchair accessible.