FlixBus, with Pittsburgh line to D.C., Ohio, hopes to ‘make the bus cool again’
A German bus company that connects Pittsburgh to Columbus and Washington, D.C., hopes to make “the bus cool again” and offer lower fares than its competitors.
FlixBus offers trips from Pittsburgh to the nation’s capital and Columbus starting at $9.99 on its fleet of bright green buses.
Megabus fares for a similar trip start at around $34.99. A Greyhound bus for the same trip starts at around $22 and goes up to $47 depending on when the trip is.
FlixBus trips to Columbus leave from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on the weekends and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The reverse trip is available on the weekends and Wednesday through Friday.
Trips to Washington are available on the weekends and Wednesday through Friday. The reverse trip is available on the weekends and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
As of earlier this month, travelers can connect from Washington to other buses serving Philadelphia and New York City.
FlixBus does not own any of its buses, which is how fares are kept low. Instead, the company partners with existing smaller, regional companies looking for an additional revenue stream.
In Columbus, that partner is Cardinal Transportation Ltd. It owns a fleet of around 56 coaches, the large buses used for long distance travel.
Pierre Gourdain, FlixBus’ USA managing director, said that “the customer really wins because the service is so much better.”
Gourdain said FlixBus’ business model is not that of franchisees because the bus companies do not pay franchise fees. Rather, FlixBus takes a cut of each ticket sold.
The company launched in Munich, Germany, in 2013. It runs bus routes in 28 countries across Europe. FlixBus has been in the U.S. on the West Coast since May 2018 and operates in about 80 cities and 14 states, including Washington, D.C., according to its website.
Gourdain said the company’s vision in the U.S. is to become the biggest network of long-distance busing by “making the bus cool again.”
The company offers a mobile app where customers can purchase tickets and track rides.
“We sell a great deal of our tickets on the mobile app,” he said, adding those users tend to be younger. And many of FlixBus’ passengers have never used a bus for long-distance travel before, Gourdain said.
Online bus reservations are made at flixbus.com.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .