FlixBus op­ti­mistic for road ahead as it launches in UK

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Si­mon Foy

AN IN­TER­CITY coach ser­vice is be­ing launched in Bri­tain this week by trans­port app FlixBus de­spite a plunge in bus travel.

Ser­vices will run from Lon­don to Bris­tol, Guild­ford, Birm­ing­ham and Portsmouth as the Mu­nich-based startup works with lo­cal bus op­er­a­tors to of­fer about 200 trips a week with fares at £3. It does not own coaches or em­ploy driv­ers di­rectly.

FlixBus will ini­tially use six coaches and plans to in­crease that num­ber in re­sponse to de­mand. It ex­pects sev­eral mil­lion UK pas­sen­gers in the first year.

The firm car­ried 62m pas­sen­gers over­all last year but was forced to sus­pend cross-bor­der ser­vices in Europe.

An­dreas Schor­ling, head of FlixBus UK, said: “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.”

Kevyn Jones, of Bris­tol firm Turn­ers Coach­ways, said: “The travel in­dus­try has been badly hit by the coro­n­avirus, so this is a very wel­come launch.”

De­mand for coach travel re­mains sub­dued. Na­tional Ex­press is only re­launch­ing ser­vices at a re­duced fre­quency from to­day.

The FTSE 250 firm, which sus­pended all ser­vices in the past three months, said ear­lier in June that coaches can only run at 50pc ca­pac­ity due to so­cial dis­tanc­ing re­stric­tions.

FlixBus said fewer than half of the seats on its buses will be sold to en­sure pas­sen­gers can keep a safe dis­tance, while coaches will be dis­in­fected be­fore every jour­ney and face masks will be com­pul­sory.

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