Competition for Passenger Travel

July 20, 1955

Report Outline
Persisting Contest for Travel Dollar
Shifts in Passenger Traffic Pattern
Innovations to Promote Air Travel
Rail and Bus Action to Regain Traffic

Persisting Contest for Travel Dollar

Transportation services of all kinds currently are bidding for the business of what promises to be a record crop of summer vacationers. An estimated 42 million persons in the United States have annual paid vacations of at least two weeks, and most of them usually take a long or short trip by car, bus, train, plane, or ship. Railroads, bus companies, and airlines have been engaged in vigorous competition, particularly since the end of World War II, to hold or increase their respective shares of the vacation trade. All signs now point to further intensification of the battle for the dollars spent on travel—whether for pleasure in vacation seasons or for business the year around.

As the national income has increased, passenger travel has mounted, and the long-term trend still is upward. The more money the American family has, the more it travels and the more expensively it travels. But not all modes of transportation have shared alike in the expanded, and expanding, postwar passenger travel market. The railroads have been carrying fewer and fewer passengers, the airlines more and more passengers. Meanwhile, all public carriers have had to compete not only with one another but also with a common rival. That rival is the privately owned automobile.

Supremacy of Automobile in Passenger Travel

For more than a generation the major means of transportation in this country, the motor car at present is estimated to carry between 80 and 90 per cent of all intercity travelers; its share of the total intercity travel load thus is several times that of the railroads, airlines, and bus companies combined. As Railway Age pointed out, May 16, 1955, “Except for the airlines …all public passenger transportation has shriveled under the onslaught of the ubiquitous private automobile.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Tourism and Vacation
Sep. 24, 2021  Travel and COVID-19
Nov. 09, 2018  Global Tourism Controversies
Oct. 20, 2006  Ecotourism
Jun. 17, 1988  America's ‘Vacation Gap’
May 04, 1984  Tourism's Economic Impact
Jul. 21, 1978  Tourism Boom
May 14, 1969  Summer Camps and Student Travel
May 18, 1966  Tourist Dollar Gap
Apr. 19, 1961  Two-Way Tourism
Jul. 20, 1955  Competition for Passenger Travel
Jul. 03, 1946  Travel Boom
Jun. 17, 1930  Foreign and Domestic Tourist Traffic
Air Transportation
Travel and Tourism