FlixBus aims to build the UK’s largest coach network by 2025

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FlixBus already provides long-distance European services from London, and had commenced UK domestic operations in 2020, prior to lockdown. RICHARD SHARMAN

FlixBus is to launch new domestic connections between UK cities starting on 15 April with tickets available from 99p

FlixBus is returning to the UK market and launching new domestic connections, the firm says, as the country starts to re-open. From 15 April, passengers will be offered journeys on 18 routes covering 12 cities. Passengers can book tickets from 99p for a number of routes between London, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Leeds, Leicester, Loughborough, Manchester, Sheffield and Swansea, with up to seven departures in each direction on peak days, depending on the route. The most frequent corridors will be London-Bristol and London-Birmingham.

Andreas Schorling, Managing Director FlixBus UK said: “Many UK residents have held back their activities in the past months to reach the point where people can start to reunite. We are glad that we can provide a new, value for money mobility alternative to those travelling to meet their loved ones finally. Seeing the efficient vaccination program, we are hopeful that more and more passengers will have the opportunity to move around the country freely again in the upcoming period. Although outlooks are optimistic, we stay cautious: hygiene and safety continue to be our highest priority to ensure a safe journey.”

FlixBus said that in line with coronavirus precautions, every coach will be disinfected before every journey and undergo a thorough cleaning process. In line with regulations, passengers will have to wear masks, as will drivers when away from their seat. The row immediately behind the drivers will be kept clear, and only half of the remaining seats will be sold to help keep a safe distance between passengers.

The operator plans to gradually increase the number of services operating during the coming weeks, with a goal of having ‘a truly compelling offer by the summer, with new holiday destinations and a significantly increased number of cities in the domestic network,’ as well as bringing back international services between UK cities and destinations in continental Europe, such as Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels when the situation allows.

The company says it has bold long-term plans in the UK and aims to build the country’s largest coach network by 2025. Working in collaboration with local small and medium-sized companies, FlixBus uses technology to plan the service and routes. Its partner operators take care of the day-to-day operations, and share the revenue of the journeys operated together. Flixbus says that the larger share of the revenue goes to the operator, meaning both parties stay motivated to always provide the best service for the passengers, and ultimately all stakeholders benefit from the business model. Flixbus told CBW that the initial services will be operated by Cambridge-based Whippet Coaches, Turners Coachways of Bristol, Sheffield-based Linburg and Thandi Coaches of Abberley Street, Smethwick (not to be confused with other operators of a similar name) and that most coaches on the network will be in FlixBus livery, with the rest to follow in the next few weeks.

FlixBus is also selling third party journeys on its website for Arriva Green Line, RATP Air Decker, Stagecoach JET 747 and Transdev Flyer.

“The past year hit the transportation industry hard. For SMEs especially, it is crucial to restart their businesses as long as it can be done in a safe way by following regulations and guidelines. We are confident that we can provide a stable base for our partners to grow and strengthen their business after a very challenging period,” added Andreas. Of the 36 countries it operates in, the UK is among the first where FlixBus is restarting its services, which it said is due to the accelerated vaccination campaign and the ongoing easing of the restrictions.

“Our colleagues around the world are also fastening their eyes on our expansion in the UK. Thanks to the quick improvements in the situation around Covid-19, we will draw some important conclusions from the local UK mobility sector experiences,” Andreas concluded.

Martin Evans, who has joined Flixbus as Senior Business Development Manager UK, told CBW: “It is exciting to be a part of FlixBus’ journey in the UK coach market at this early stage already. Our business model has proven to be very successful wherever FlixBus operates across the globe and has made us the world’s biggest provider of long-distance bus services. We have ambitious plans for the UK. In cooperation with our local partners, our team is aiming to build the largest coach network and provide a great value for money service available for everyone around the country.”