The new long-distance FlixBus began service in the Pacific Northwest last Thursday, offering to transport students to 11 stops between Oregon and Washington, stretching from Eugene to Spokane.
Four times per day, buses will depart the Hayward Field stop on the University of Oregon campus and carry riders to Seattle via Portland. Other cities serviced along the route at various frequencies include Albany, Corvallis, Salem and four Washington cities.
It is no fluke that the Eugene stop is stationed on the UO campus. In Corvallis and Ellensburg, Washington, the stops are on the Oregon State University and Central Washington University campuses, respectively. “The core of it is that it’s a huge population of people that want to travel and want to do it in a sustainable way,” FlixBus Head of Business Development Michael Khan said of the company’s presence on campuses.
The PNW is only the most recent expansion for the travel company. The company was founded in Germany in 2013 and now operates in 28 European countries, according to itswebsite. FlixBus expanded to the United States in 2018 with the addition of several routes in the Southwest and along the West Coast.
Since then, services have expanded to include routes in the Southern and Northeastern United States with a total of over 100 stations. Internationally, the company has raised around $561 million from investors to expand into Latin America and Asia, Reuters reports.
Sustainability is part of FlixBus’s business practices. Its parent company FlixMobility has promised that by 2030, all of its bus and train trips and business-related processes will be carbon neutral. Earlier this year, the company tested America’s first fully electric long-distance bus. The electric bus currently runs from San Francisco to Sacramento, but starting next year, the company plans to expand its electric bus services, according toFast Company.
FlixBus also appeals to travelers on a budget. Short routes, such as Eugene to Corvallis, begin at $4.99 and a round trip from Eugene to Portland on a non-holiday weekend is $20 compared to $26 to ride Bolt Bus the same weekend.
Another way FlixBus hopes to beat out existing travel companies is by effectively using technology, Kahn said. The company’s plan is to offer services such as free onboard Wi-Fi, personal outlets and an app for ticket purchasing and bus tracking to win over customers.
The company also uses technology to make service faster. “We never want to be slower than our competitors,” Khan said. FlixBus tracks ticket sales and will cancel stops on days when there are no pickups or drop-offs at a station. For example, if no one wants to stop in Corvallis, the Eugene to Portland route will skip that stop for the day and cut down on travel time.
The result of FlixBus’s sustainability, pricing and technological practices is an expanding market of long-distance bus riders. Khan said that as many as 60% of FlixBus riders are people who have never used coaches for long-distance travel in the past.
FlixBus plans to continue expanding its services next year, including connecting its PNW network to the rest of the West Coast and adding more services in Idaho.