Suppose that instead of leaving home a couple of hours before takeoff to account for driving to the airport, finding a place to park, making your way to the terminal, checking baggage, allowing for potential delays in security, and arriving at the gate 30 minutes before flight time, suppose that instead of all this, you could hop on a bus with the equivalent of at least business class (reserved) seats and free wifi, and reach your destination just as quickly. Suppose furthermore that you could do this from, say, DC to downtown Manhattan for $15.00
Think that would be a threat to the airlines?
Check out the new Greyhound site.
Yeah, I know that busses have bad reputations for cleanliness and stations are often located in parts of town you’d rather not find yourself in, but given only slight fare increases — still well below airlines’ — those problems can be fixed. And long-distance service, such as the newly announced route between Chicago and New Orleans, will probably only appeal to those who cannot afford to fly.
Europe has invested heavily in high-speed trains, but given the cost of building new rail lines, this option remains impractical for the United States. Busses, however, just show up and go.
I couldn’t tell from the site whether $15 will get you one of the new busses, but even at, say, three time that price, is it still a threat to airlines, most of which will charge you that just to check bags?
Point is that dysfunctionality in our air transportation system has led not to new airlines but to alternative ways of getting from point A to point B. There will be more to come.