SIC 4173

This industry includes establishments primarily engaged in the operation of motor vehicle passenger terminals and of maintenance and service facilities, not operated by companies that also furnish motor vehicle passenger transportation. Establishments that are owned by motor vehicle passenger transportation companies and are primarily engaged in operating terminals for use of such vehicles are classified in the same industry as establishments providing motor vehicle transportation. Separate maintenance and service facilities operated by companies furnishing motor vehicle passenger transportation are treated as auxiliaries. Establishments that provide motor vehicle maintenance or service for the general public are classified in various automotive repair industries, such as SIC 7533: Automotive Exhaust System Repair Shops and SIC 7538: General Automotive Repair Shops.

NAICS Code(s)

488490 (Other Support Activities for Road Transportation)

In 2001, there were 1,031 establishments in the industry employing a total of 17,541 people. Combined, their annual payroll totaled $452.5 million. Most of the firms were quite small, with only 42 percent employing more than 9 workers.

The majority of motor vehicle passenger terminals and maintenance facilities in the United States, whether their mode of transportation was bus, train, or some other method, were owned and operated by companies that were also directly involved in the transport of passengers. As a result, the terminal and service facility operations of those companies—from Greyhound to Amtrak—were treated as part of their overall transportation services and were classified with those services, rather than in this industrial classification. In 2004 Greyhound operated 2,400 buses and 112 terminals alone. In larger urban areas, a government-run, regional transportation authority usually maintained terminals.

The independent facilities in this industry suffered as a result of waning intercity bus ridership during the final decades of the century. In the 1920s, more than 4,000 intercity bus companies operated in the United States, and by the mid-1940s the bus transport industry registered 27 billion passenger miles annually. The popularity of this mode of transportation in turn spurred the success of terminal and service facilities of the time. Due to the increasing availability of personal-use vehicles, however, more and more Americans traveled between cities in their own vehicles. By 1998, nearly 80 percent of long distance trips were made by personal vehicle. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Statistics 1998 Annual Report, the total intercity bus ridership accounted for only 2.1 percent of total highway miles traveled. But intercity buses were recognized as the safest form of transportation, and Greyhound reported that in 2003 it traveled 9 billion passenger miles.

The trend among publicly run regional transportation facilities moved toward intermodal transportation terminals that accommodated inter-city bus lines, passenger railroads, transit rail and buses, commuter rail, and subways all under one roof. In the mid-1990s, Boston; Newark, New Jersey; San Francisco; and Atlanta were all in various stages of designing intermodal facilities that made passenger travel more convenient. Acting as landlords, the transportation authorities leased space to their terminal tenants. In Boston's new intermodal South Station, for example, prime bus bays were leasing for about $35,000 a year in 1995.

Greyhound, in particular, was hoping to change the image of bus riding. In the 2000s, the company reported customer facts regarding levels of income and education, among other items, in an effort to de-stigmatize the industry and the image of what was generally perceived as its typical clientele.

Another trend in ground transportation terminals focused on establishing a more customer-friendly ambiance and providing both passengers and city residents with a greater diversity of services. By the late 1990s, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had transformed the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, long associated with grime and criminal activity, into a shopping and entertainment center. Through aggressive marketing, the Port Authority attracted a host of upscale retailers, including drug stores, coffee and pastry vendors, and florists. It also installed a new 30-lane bowling alley, patronized primarily by corporate leagues and local families. In 1999, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station followed suit, upgrading its facilities with the same type of retailers and services.

Assurance of safety was a big concern for the industry, especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the attack on a bus driver in Tennessee the following moth. That year, Greyhound established security measures including metal detectors, searches, and frisking of passengers. In 2003, the city of Riverside, California, had uniformed officers on patrol in and around the bus station, and many bus stations across the country were doing the same.

Further Reading

1998 Transportation Statistics Annual Report. U.S. Department of Transportation, 2000. Available from .

Greyhound Lines Company Profile . Greyhound. 8 March 2004. Available from .

Magenheim, Henry. "Greyhound Beefs Up Security." Travel Weekly, 22 October 2001.

"Riverside Transit Forms Partnership." Mass Transit, June 2003.

U.S. Census Bureau, "United States—Establishments, Employees, and Payroll by Industry and Employment-Size Class:2001." County Business Patterns. 5 March 2004. Available from .

——. Statistics of U.S. Businesses: 2001. 1 March 2004. Available from .

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