With a big green motor coach and the Hollywood sign over their shoulders, the founders of European startup success story Flixbus on Tuesday announced the company’s arrival in its 28th country: the United States. The service will launch on May 31 and include 180 connections between Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson. Popular routes—L.A. to Vegas, for instance—will have as many as nine departures each day, and fares have startlingly low starting points. How about $2.99 for the five-and-a-half-hour hop from the UCLA campus to the front door of Caesar’s Palace?
The Munich-based company—which in its five years has become the largest intercity bus line in Europe—doesn’t actually own any of its Kermit-green coaches. In the United States, Flixbus has partnered with half a dozen regional bus lines—Arrow Stage Lines, American Explorer Motorcoach, Gray Line Arizona, Pacific Coachways, Transportation Charter Services, and USA Coach Services—and amped up its operations with Flixbus techie amenities, including free onboard Wi-Fi, power outlets, and GPS tracking.
Flixbus is especially proud of its simple app-centered booking engine. “We’re a tech company,” said company founder André Schwämmlein during the Flixbus L.A. press conference. “We harness technology to create a better experience for travelers, with the goal of providing smart and green mobility for everyone to experience the world—and we do all of it without owning a single bus.”
Although you’re guaranteed a seat with your ticket, seat selection is generally first-come, first-served. That said, the company is experimenting with reserved seating, starting at $1.49 for routes below 310 miles and $2.99 for routes above 310 miles.
And for the record, the motor coach is the most environmentally friendly form of transportation, emitting a mere 15 percent as much carbon, per passenger, as the average 23-mpg car. If you’re still concerned, however, FlixBus has worked with the climate-protection nonprofit Atmosfair to offer a “CO2 Neutral” option, an upcharge that typically adds 1 to 3 percent to the base fare, based on trip distance and duration. Those funds are used to sponsor a range of environmental initiatives, including hydro-, solar-, and wind-power installations.
The U.S. network is Flixbus’s most expansive country launch yet, but the company has even bigger plans for the Southwest. By the end of 2018, the line will introduce an additional 1,000 connections for the region.