Buses get a bad rap. In Europe, the long-distance bus has always been the country cousin of the faster and more comfortable passenger train. And in the United States, well, Greyhound buses haven’t been cool since stunt hero Evel Knievel jumped 14 of them on a motorcycle in 1975—and even then, really, not so much. One German company, though, is changing travelers’ lingering bad attitude about buses by offering an alternative to the rigidity of the Eurail system and the time-suck of inter-city European air travel.
Munich-based FlixBus has transported more than 100 million passengers in Europe since its debut in 2013, making it the continent’s biggest inter-city bus network. It has achieved that by being three things: cheap (for example, Paris to London for 18 bucks), punctual (90 percent on-time arrival), and connected (free onboard 4G Wi-Fi). It also helps that travelers can grab a FlixBus pretty much anywhere; the company presently offers some 250,000 daily connections in 1,400 cities across 27 European countries. And this summer, FlixBus plans to launch service in the United States, with still-unannounced routes in Southern California and the Southwestern states.
“We stand for affordable travel and an ecological alternative to the car.”
FlixBus’s parent company, FlixMobility, this week announced the perfectly named FlixTrain, which will launch on March 24 with rail service between Hamburg and Cologne and between Berlin and Stuttgart; fares for both routes start at €9.99 (about US$11). By the end of the year, FlixTrain will link 28 cities in Germany. Naturally, tickets for FlixTrain and FlixBus can be bought and managed through a free smartphone app.
“The FlixMobility goal is to persuade—and allow—more people to take public transportation options on long routes,” says CEO and cofounder André Schwämmlein. “With our network now consisting of bus and rail, we are creating a sustainable concept for the future of mobility.”
Jump that, Evel Knievel.