Planes, trains, automobiles — but not buses; long-distance bus service suffers most
YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Among the three Midstate cities with long-distance transportation hubs – air, rail, and/or bus – York has lost far more of its overall service than Harrisburg or Lancaster. Nearly all of it, in fact, because it has lost nearly all of its intercity bus service, and buses are all York has.
“Bus travel is the type of transportation that has been most negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Staffo Dobrev, a budget travel expert for Wanderu, which is an online bus and rail booking platform.
At abc27’s request, Wanderu extracted and provided bus and rail data for the three cities, comparing this month (January 2021) to the equivalent month a year earlier (January 2020). ABC27 separately extracted airline data from the airline data provider Cirium. ABC27 then compared the number of total departures for the month from each city.
||Air January 2020*
||Air January 2021*
||Rail January 2020**
||Rail January 2021**
||Bus January 2020**
||Bus January 2021**
||Total decline, all modes of travel
*Data source for Harrisburg Int’l Airport (which is actually in Middletown) is Cirium; **rail and bus data source is Wanderu
Lancaster was the only city of the three to lose all its scheduled bus service, but bus service there was relatively insignificant to begin with, and Lancaster retained most of its overall service. Dobrev confirmed average bus fares are substantially lower than average air or rail fares, meaning a loss of bus service is likely to disproportionately impact people who can least afford to choose another way to travel.
As they have slashed overall service during the pandemic, bus lines have cut more service in smaller cities than in larger ones, Dobrev said.
“And that’s exactly what has happened in York,” he said. “So people who want to travel by bus now have to find a way to get to Harrisburg and embark on their trip from there, which obviously leads to complications for people who don’t have easy access to personal transportation.” In other words, people who don’t have cars.
Greyhound was the largest of three bus companies serving York.
“We are temporarily closed in the area due to COVID-19, but there are plans to reopen in the future,” a spokeswoman told abc27 News. “We are still leasing the [bus station] building. Currently, there is no estimated date.”