A major European firm is launching a new intercity coach service in the UK, a move it says will help boost the economy.
FlixBus has announced plans to take several million passengers across the country within its first year of operation, with initial destinations including Bristol, London, Guildford, Birmingham and Portsmouth.
As Europe’s biggest provider of intercity coach travel, the company does not own coaches or employ drivers, but the business model is based on a collaboration with local companies. It will begin running services in Britain from July 2, as part of a network that has 400,000 daily connections to 2,500 destinations across 32 countries.
The company says it will initially run four routes from London to each of the listed cities, with fares starting from £2.99. As lockdown restrictions ease, Flixbus bosses say they expect to be able to increase the destinations they offer.
Kevyn Jones, of Turners Coachways in St Philip’s, has welcomed the news, saying: “The travel industry has been badly hit by the coronavirus, so this is a very welcome launch for people who will want to see distant family and friends or conduct business in a safe way as the lockdown ends.”
FlixBus bosses say hygiene and safety are of the highest priority, so each coach will be disinfected before every ride and undergo a thorough cleaning process. In line with national regulations, passengers will have to wear masks, as will drivers when away from their seat.
The row immediately behind the driver will be kept clear and only half of the remaining seats will be sold to help keep a safe distance between passengers.
Initially, the company will use six coaches from different local firms but plans to add to this as demand picks up.
Andreas Schorling, managing director FlixBus UK, has said he is confident the company will be the cheapest way for people to travel between the cities they are servicing and claims travel by coach is the greenest way of travelling in Britain.
“With the lockdown restrictions easing, people will want to start travelling to see family and friends, go back to university or college or travel for work and we will offer a safe, comfortable and affordable way to do this,” said Schorling.
“As we are partnering with local firms, we will also be giving a boost to businesses that have been hit hard by Covid-19.”
Schorling added: “To start with, we will be connecting London, Birmingham, Bristol, Portsmouth and Guildford to Europe’s largest intercity bus network, with more UK cities to come. This is just the beginning – we have great plans for Britain and aim to grow to market leader by 2025.”
Main photo courtesy of FlixBus