The National Academies

NCHRP 08-133 [Final]

Implementing the National Intercity Bus Atlas

  Project Data
Funds: $280,441
Research Agency: Resource Systems Group Inc.
Principal Investigator: Greg Spitz
Effective Date: 2/5/2021
Completion Date: 2/5/2023
Comments: Phases II and III will be executed under NCHRP 08-133(01)

Following deregulation of the intercity bus industry in 1982 and significant restructuring of the industry in the mid-2000s, much of the population of the United States has lost access to the intercity bus network. A paucity of reliable information on existing services has emerged as a major obstacle as public agencies and private service providers look for opportunities to reestablish lost services and to create new services.
While more than $100 million in federal funding flows through state departments of transportation (DOTs) to support intercity bus operations, there is not a clear picture of where such subsidies are flowing or of how they relate to the much larger intercity bus network. It is difficult for public, for-profit, and non-profit actors to make informed decisions in the absence of such important data and information.
Prior to deregulation, information had been available through a publicly available, industry-wide schedule book, the National Motorcoach Guide, published by Russell’s (commonly known as Russell’s Guide or just Russell’s), disappeared. Attempts to provide information in this void have included the independent and unbiased map available from the American Intercity Bus Riders Association’s (AIBRA) website (https://www.kfhgroup.com/aibra/pdf/usmap.pdf). A presentation at the 2017 Rural and Intercity Bus Conference by Michael Buiting, the individual who voluntarily created and maintained the AIBRA map, led to the drafting of a research problem statement by members of the TRB Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus; that problem statement was included in the NCHRP Rural Transportation Issues Research Roadmap and submitted for funding consideration by the AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation. The data entry burden is more than an individual volunteer can maintain.
In 2019 the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) began an Intercity Bus Atlas (ICBA) initiative, which “collects, compiles, publishes and archives scheduled intercity bus service information. The data reveal local, interregional, and international transportation patterns, and inform the nation about the location and connectivity of its transportation facilities and services.” In order for the ICBA to fulfill its potential in informing business, policy, and planning decisions, research is needed to (1) engage a significant portion of the intercity bus industry in providing route, stop, and schedule data, and (2) develop guidance for (a) ongoing maintenance and development of the ICBA as a national resource; (b) user guides to inform those responsible for state, local, tribal, and territorial intercity bus policy and plans; and (c) user guides for those in the private for-profit and non-profit sectors responsible for investment decisions regarding intercity bus operations. This work has new urgency as public travel patterns change under the COVID-19 pandemic.
The objective of this project is to complete the development and implementation of the Intercity Bus Atlas (ICBA) as an ongoing, comprehensive and publicly available inventory of intercity bus services. While the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has developed the structure and platform to house and maintain the ICBA, research is needed to populate the ICBA with General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data. The research team will need to work closely with the BTS and the Federal Geographic Data Committee Intercity Bus Working Group to accomplish this project. 

Status: Phase I is complete; subsequent phases will be completed under NCHRP 08-133(01) (https://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5597).


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