With the price of gasoline again inching up, local bus companies are seeing an increase in the number of passengers enjoying their tours.
"People enjoy going on bus trips. They don't like to drive in the cities, and they don't have to worry about finding a parking space," said Gloria Alt, office manager of Lodestar Bus Lines and Tours, Johnstown. "I've been here for 11 years, and I have seen motorcoach tour bookings increase every year; our sales continue to go up. People love to travel."
Fullington Bus Co., State College, has seen a significant increase in the number of people taking their multi-day trips for the first half of this year compared to last year.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Top: Carol Pensyl of Altoona holds a pillow as she takes her grandson, Matthew Savino, 14, and his friend, Gavin Lynch, 14, to Washington, D.C., on a recent trip.
CEO Jonathan Berzas said participation in the trips of three days and longer have increased 200 percent.
Berzas also said Fullington offered one more single-day trip than last year but had 400 more passengers. On the two-day trips, however, he said the company has seen a decrease of about 50 percent on the number of riders.
"Combining all of our trips, we are carrying 22 percent more passengers on our tours - about 1,800 more people," Berzas said.
Myers Coach Lines, Duncansville, and Bollman Charter Service, Everett, also are seeing an increase in passengers for day trips.
"Our single-day trips are up, maybe a 2 percent increase," said Troy Greenawalt, Bollman operations manager. "We have seen a decrease in the week to three-week trips. The multi-day trips have taken a big hit."
"We have seen a slight increase in passenger traffic by motorcoach for the day tours. We have noticed an increase in clubs, groups and organizations traveling as a group to their favorite destination," Duane Bordell, director of sales for Myers Coach Lines, said.
Increasing gasoline prices is one reason for the increase in passengers, Berzas said.
He also attributed the increase to more targeted marketing and discounts offered to passengers.
"We are offering discounts to those who pay in advance, and we discount certain trips when we can and pass it on to the customers," he said.
Bus companies say their trips are a bargain and convenient for the passengers.
Popular destinations include New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Pittsburgh, Kennywood Park and Hershey Park, along with area casinos and sporting events.
"We went to the Pirates game July 24. We were able to sell three buses and could have sold another 100 tickets," Berzas said.
Mystery trips remain quite popular, Alt said.
"Everyone is signing up for those trips and they have no idea where they are going. We have some people who go every year with us. They try to guess where they are going," Alt said. "We have done this for many years, and every year they sell out in two weeks."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.