Ride-sharing services a factor in their demise
Two airport shuttle operators—one with a global network—turned off their engines at the end of 2019.
Competition from ridesharing services Uber and Lyft were implicated in the demise of the international SuperShuttle network as well as the Coach USA Indiana Airport Supersaver bus service.
Both ceased operations on Dec. 31. SuperShuttle served airports in 71 U.S. cities and 16 in other countries, according to its website.
Coach USA announced an end to its shuttle service connecting northwestern Indiana with the Midway and O’Hare airports in Chicago. The Chicago Trolley sightseeing bus operation also was parked. After the announcement, Royal Excursion of northern Indiana announced plans to expand its services to connect the region with the Chicago airports.
“SuperShuttle is the leader in airport transportation with over 30 years of experience and 150 million passengers served,” its website proclaimed. In December, however, the company began notifying airports that it would not continue operations into 2020.
The Los Angeles Times has been following the decline of shuttle and taxi businesses in the past three years.
“Shared van services such as SuperShuttle have been hit hard since the advent of ride-hailing services,” the paper reported in December. “At LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), shared van rides plunged by two-thirds in the first half of this year compared with the first half of 2016, the first full year that Uber and Lyft operated there, according to city data.
“Trips on LAX’s FlyAway buses also sank by two-thirds during that time; taxi trips fell 39 percent; and courtesy shuttles to car rental facilities, parking lots and hotels saw a 20 percent decline. The number of Uber and Lyft trips, meanwhile, more than doubled.”
The closure affected “hundreds” of franchisees who owned their vans, the paper reported. One of them provided a letter in which SuperShuttle told him the company was closing due to “increasing costs and changes in the competitive and regulatory landscape” that “have called into question the economic and operational viability of the company’s operations.”
The company had not issued a public statement about its plans a week after it began informing airports, employees and franchisees of the shutdown. The website’s news page was empty, and its media press kit contained no information beyond the graphic elements of its logos.
Coach USA’s Indiana Airport Supersaver buses served three counties, including the University of Notre Dame, South Bend Regional Airport and the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
About 300 drivers and other employees lost their jobs, Coach USA spokesman Sean Hughes said. They would be offered positions at other Coach USA operations if they are willing to relocate, he said.
The Times of Northwest Indiana reported, “In recent years, the bus service has faced increased competition from ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber, which are more costly but offer travelers who don’t want to drive themselves to the airport more flexibility and convenience.”
Royal Excursion expansion
Royal Excursion of Mishawaka, Indiana, will “expand the company’s service operations in all of Michiana and NW Indiana, including the lines connecting the University of Notre Dame and Chicago airports,” it announced on Dec. 12.
“We are very excited to deliver our cost-effective, eco-friendly and customer-centric transportation services to more of our neighbors in Michigan and the northwestern part of Indiana,” said owner and President Shannon Kaser.
“This line, which is a vital transportation route that connects travelers from northwestern Indiana and Chicagoland, has been part of our community for many years. We are proud to ensure travelers continue to have a safe and cost-effective mode of transportation available to them,” he said.
Royal Excursion plans to implement the service within 60 days.