Being the Vehicle For Change: Transporting Social Activists in the U.S.

Though some charter bus operators separate their business from politics, their services are vital to bringing important issues to light. Today, protesters use online forums and local Facebook groups to coordinate group transportation to protests, demonstrations, and rallies across the country. In turn, motorcoach companies provide them with the opportunity to ride together safely and affordably.

As the number of protests in the U.S. rises, the amount of large-scale charter bus rentals is enough to make headlines. According to D.C. city councilman Charles Allen, participants of the 2016 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. filed enough permits to fill all 1,200 charter bus parking spaces at RFK Stadium, surpassing the 390 charter bus permits filed for President Trump’s inauguration. Last year, charter buses to March for Our Lives also filled an estimated 90-100% of the RFK Stadium lot.

This level of political activism isn’t limited to D.C. The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll found that at least 1 in 5 Americans nationwide have attended a political protest or rally since Trump entered the White House. Count Love, a crowdsourced record of demonstrations across the country, has documented more than 10,500 protests since President Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

For better or worse, President Trump is spurring more and more Americans toward social activism. You don’t have to align your bus company with one side of the fight or the other, but you can’t ignore the impact these events have on the charter bus industry.


Instead of traditional marketing channels such as radio or print flyers, activism event coordinators use social media and Google to find charter bus companies they can trust. For example, some use Facebook groups to gather bus company suggestions from their friends and fellow activists. Bus operators who isolate themselves from competing bus companies and who shy away from digital marketing will miss out on business from these politically-active customers.

Event organizers who need transportation quickly use charter bus company comparison tools like charterUP to find the operator that will best meet their needs. The site presents users with reviews, real-time pricing and inventory information, amenity options, and other key details so they can make an informed decision in a short amount of time.

“For the 2017 March for Our Lives, we mobilized hundreds of charter buses and minibuses in New York, D.C., and surrounding cities,” said Mike Bielenberg, Director of Communications at charterUP. “Many of our customers requested more than two buses at a time, and the largest rental was for more than 60 buses. On their own, the local charter bus operators we partner with understandably can’t handle that kind of request. It’s not until owners and operators band together and embrace new technology that political activists’ needs are met.”

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, the number of protests across the country will inevitably increase. If your company’s digital marketing strategy doesn’t account for political activities, rallies, demonstrations, and protests, now is the time to become affiliated with other bus service providers and partner with motorcoach company comparison sites.

You don’t have to align yourself with the left or the right, but you need to lean into technology if you want to compete in today’s political climate.

Dorothy Gribbles is a freelance writer who covers the travel & transportation industry.