New coach service bids to shake up Scottish travel sector
By Scott Wright
A NEW inter-city coach service has entered the Scottish market, promising cut-price fares and a greener mode of transport than cars and planes.
German-owned FlixBus launched its Scottish operation yesterday with a new daily service connecting Glasgow and Aberdeen, with ticket prices starting at 99p for the month of August.
The service will call in at Stirling and Perth, and will initially visit the four Scottish cities four times a day.
The arrival of FlixBus in Scotland marks the continuation of the company’s partnership with Greenock-based McGill’s Buses.
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McGill’s, which will operate the new Scottish route on behalf of FlixBus, currently runs services to and from Sheffield and Manchester for the European operator, and recently announced a daily summer service between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
While the initial focus in Scotland will be on the Glasgow to Edinburgh service, it is understood FlixBus is looking to add further destinations to its network. And it is envisaged that the introduction of the new player will boost the tourism sector, with the service offering connections throughout Scotland for travellers coming from towns and cities south of the Border.
FlixBus describes itself as a green coach brand, and provides passengers with services to 2,400 destinations in 40 countries. The company attracted attention in Scotland last year when its parent company, FlixMobility, acquired the Greyhound inter-city coach business from FirstGroup for $172 million (£125m) in October. The deal came more than two years after FirstGroup had first put Greyhound on the market.
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Andreas Schorling, managing director of FlixBus UK, said: “We have made no secret that we want to be the biggest coach brand in the whole of the UK, and our launch in Scotland is a cornerstone of our growth strategy. We know from our experience of cross-border routes that our service is a natural fit with the Scottish market.”
Asked to expand on FlixBus’s green credentials, a spokeswoman for the company said it offers passengers the opportunity to carbon offset when purchasing tickets. She noted that research has shown that coach travel is six times more sustainable than cars and nine times more sustainable than air travel.
To mark the launch of the new Scottish service, FlixBus has launched a new coach design, featuring the Saltire and famous landmarks such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Ben Nevis, which will feature on vehicles operating north of the Border. The buses will be operated and serviced by McGill’s, which said it has created 30 jobs in the last year as a result of its work with FlixBus.
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Ralph Roberts, chief executive of McGill’s, said: “Our established partnership with FlixBus has gone from strength to strength, and we are delighted to be working together with the global brand to deliver this ambitious project and offer high quality transport connections to the people of Scotland.”
Mr Schorling added: “McGill’s has always been the obvious choice of partner to ensure the service is a success, and we’re proud to be launching our affordable, reliable and sustainable coach network in Scotland with their team.”
FlixBus began life as a tech start-up in Germany, and has been hailed for “revolutionising” the travel industry since 2013 with the introduction of services such as frictionless digital booking systems, live tracking and consumer app.