Statewide Intercity Passenger Transportation in Illinois

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of life in the United States. For travel, the changes have been vast, whether for private vehicle use or public transit use. For the intercity bus industry, the pandemic changed operations in meaningful ways that have yet to return to previous levels – whether on the service or the demand side. This study set out to measure both the supply and the demand for intercity routes; however, the fluctuations in supply levels made that virtually impossible to quantify. This study does, however, provide an overview of the history and current funding processes for intercity bus questions while performing modeling that shows where the greatest demand is for intercity bus services, both entirely within the State of Illinois and for routes that leave the state’s borders. This study also provides considerable information about how feeder services improve connectivity to longer intercity bus routes, on a county-by-county level. This study also interviews other state departments of transportation (DOTs) to gain insight into their use of 5311(f) intercity bus funding that the Federal Transit Administration provides. The industry at the moment is plagued by increasing costs, shortages of staff, and funding levels that have not kept up with those increasing costs. Due to a perceived difficulty in procuring this funding from the State of Illinois, some providers have avoided attempting to utilize this funding in Illinois entirely, choosing to pursue providing service in other states, some of which provide additional services to intercity bus operators. Investments in intercity bus marketing could also assist efforts to move passengers around the state. While this study was greatly impacted by pandemic-led changes across the industry, there is important information here about 1) the processes by which 5311(f) funding is utilized; 2) suggested areas of investment, including buses, bus shelters, operating funding, user-side subsidies, new feeder services, and IT tracking of both intercity buses and feeder vehicles; and 3) modeling showing where demand exists for these services. Sixteen counties in Illinois have none of their population that is within a 25-mile radius of intercity bus services, even when considering the availability of feeder services that could transport people to a stop if it existed. Another seven counties have between 0 and 25% of their population that fall into this category. While the data here is current as of the time of the interviews in 2020 and 2021, it is worth re-assessing the current supply of intercity bus operators to determine the extent to which the noted demand is being met. These routes can and do change regularly, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional study of supply would be beneficial, but at a time with so many changes in the industry, that may continue to be difficult to document.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 128p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01882246
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: May 18 2023 5:08PM