Bus Shortage Forces Bands to Cancel, Postpone Tours

'Buses are raising their prices, and bands have to either pay it or lose the bus'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2022 3:09 PM CDT
Tour Bus Shortage Is Keeping Bands Off the Road
Cold says that after their $800-a-day bus fell through, they were quoted $1,500 for a replacement.   (Getty Images)

Singer Santigold has canceled an upcoming North American tour, citing major problems in the concert industry—and she's far from the only artist experiencing problems getting back on the road. Demand for live music has surged back to pre-pandemic levels, but shortages of tour buses and soaring costs have forced numerous acts to postpone or cancel their tours, Billboard reports. Alt-metal band Cold called off a tour soon after announcing it in July when they were told their bus had fallen through. "There is currently a wait list for artists now with many of the bus companies in the US, as bands are hitting it hard for fall," the band said in a statement. "The few buses that are available are out of our affordable price range. The options that are left are not worth risking the band and our crew's safety."

Many tour bus drivers left the industry during the pandemic for more reliable jobs elsewhere. With the cost of fuel and bus maintenance also rising, travel costs are becomng unsustainable for some bands. "Buses are raising their prices, and bands have to either pay it or lose the bus," Michael Sweet of Stryper tells Billboard. "You budgeted $15,000-20,000 for fuel, and you look at the potential of that being doubled." He says the band, which has postponed half of its fall dates, tours with four band members and six crew members and doesn't plan to downgrade to an RV like some other acts have done. "We’ve been there and done that and prefer to ride in some sort of comfort," he says. "It's very important to have a bus that’s reliable, with a reliable driver."

Cold and other artists have postponed tour dates until next spring, hoping the situation will have improved by then. Doug Oliver, manager of Pioneer Coach, a Nashville company with 60 buses, says he's "thankful" for the high demand after a long period with no business, and the company is doing its best to fulfill every request. "We have little pockets of availability," he says. "It depends on timing. They could get lucky. Or, if they were hoping to get lucky, they might not get lucky, too." (More concert stories.)

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