FlixBus, the low-cost bus service out of Europe, is doubling down on its U.S. launch. The parent company, FlixMobility, started cheap bus routes between Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson just two months ago.
Now it’s adding another 16 connections throughout central and northern California. as well as Nevada and Arizona. The new connections, which begin Thursday, include California cities such as Bakersfield, Commerce, Fremont, Fresno, Gilroy, Kettleman City, Millbrae, Oakland, Richmond, Sacramento, Salinas, San Francisco, San Jose and Universal City. Tempe, Ariz. and Reno, Nev. have also been added. Several of these routes, including from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Bakersfield to Fresno and Oakland to Burbank are $9.99.
FlixBus might be competing with traditional bus company Greyhound with fares between U.S. cities as low as $4.99. But it has a different business model that is more comparable to ride-hailing company Uber. FlixBus, which now operates in 28 countries, manages the ticketing, customer service, network planning, marketing and sale of its product. The driving is left to local partners, which get to keep a percentage of the ticket receipts.
These local bus partners manage the daily operations of the brightly painted FlixBuses. The company says it’s adding 26 more buses to its fleet to accommodate the expansion. New bus partners include Alvand Transportation, Amador Stage Lines, Classic Charter, LD Tours, Transportation Charter Services and Tourcoach.
FlixBus vehicles have other touches beyond its brightly painted facades aimed at attracting customers. The buses offer free Wi-Fi and onboard entertainment, and customers can use an app to book their tickets and track their bus.
Customers can also choose to offset their carbon emissions with “CO2 Neutral” tickets. An additional 1 to 3 percent of the original price of these CO2 Neutral tickets are donated to a certified Global Climate Protection Project as well as the National Forest Foundation.
“We chose California as our new home because, more than anywhere else in the US, people no longer want the hassle of driving,” Pierre Gourdain, the managing director of FlixBus USA, said in a statement, who added the company has become southern California’s hometown carrier in a matter of weeks.
The company, which is backed by private equity investors such as Silver Lake Partners and General Atlantic, launched as FlixBus in 2013 following the deregulation of the German bus market. It has since evolved beyond the name change to FlixMobility. Today, the company operates the FlixBus and FlixTrain brands and as a pilot project for all-electric buses in Germany and France.