Flixbus, Europe's Growing Intercity Bus Service, Comes Stateside

Greyhound will soon have a new competitor, with an Uber-like business model and a history of fast growth.
November 18, 2017, 9am PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Flixbus queues up at the ZOB (central bus station) in Hannover, Germany.
Axel Bueckert

A new competitor is coming to the U.S. intercity bus industry. Flixbus has not changed the standard for service in intercity buses, yet "Flixbus is the hottest thing in Europe’s long-haul bus business: It boasts 200,000 cheap, daily connections to more than 1,200 destinations in 26 countries, carrying 30 million passengers in 2016," Laura Biss writes for CityLab. The service's innovations are more in the structure of the company: "As Uber does not own its on-demand cars, Flixbus does not own its buses. Instead, they are operated by other bus companies Flixbus has franchised or absorbed," Bliss reports.

From a customer perspective the company offers familiarity in an industry that often lacks that attribute. "This is part of Flixbus’ inherent value, from both a franchising and marketing standpoint, Schwieterman said: 'If you travel to another region, instead of stepping on a bus company you’ve never heard of, you recognize the brand,'" Bliss writes.

Flixbus is not yet profitable, but as they acquire more competitors they control a growing share of the market and may be able to raise prices. Flixbus executives argue that no matter how consolidated the bus market becomes they won't have a monopoly. In the United States the dynamic is different, as Greyhound remains the entrenched power, despite some flaws in its reputation.

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Published on Thursday, November 16, 2017 in CityLab
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