CHICAGO (CBS) — An annual study by DePaul University has found people’s reliance on tablet computers, smart phones and other electronic devices might be driving travelers to buses and trains for short trips instead of airplanes.
Professor Joe Schwieterman, a transportation expert who heads the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, said intercity buses and trains offer easier use of electronic devices.
Part of the reason is the FAA ban on using such devices during takeoffs and landings. Bus and train passengers face no such restrictions.
“They can text, they can access devices, social media, they can do work,” “It’s been going on gradually, but we’re seeing a surge this year,” Schwieterman said.
While use of electronic devices has been on the rise for all modes of travel in recent years, the university’s study found it’s most common on trains.
Approximately 52 percent of Amtrak passengers were using electronic devices during travel this year, compared to 44 percent last year.
More than 46 percent of passengers on discount bus lines like Megabus used electronic devices, and nearly 44 percent of travelers on conventional bus lines like Greyhound did, according to the study.
In comparison, 30 percent of airline passengers on short-haul flights were using electronic devices this year.
“There are a lot of factors making short-distance air travel sluggish; the hassle factor, high prices, and so forth; but on top of that, we think it’s the difficulty in maintaining the tech lifestyles that we live, and people are opting for the bus in some cases, rather than flying.”
Schwieterman predicted, sometime this summer, the FAA will recommend easing those limits.