Greyhound USA sold to FlixMobility

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jebr

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Big news in the intercity bus world - Greyhound USA is selling their US operations to FlixMobility.

Press release from FlixMobility:

FlixMobility (“the Company”), global mobility provider of the FlixBus and FlixTrain brands, announced today it has acquired Greyhound Lines, Inc. (“Greyhound”), the largest provider of long-distance bus transportation in the United States, from FirstGroup plc. This acquisition marks another important step in FlixMobility’s vision to provide easy-to-use, affordable, and environmentally friendly travel for consumers across the globe.

The purchase brings together FlixBus’ innovative global technology and shared mobility expertise with Greyhound’s iconic nationwide presence and experience, creating a company that will be better able to service the needs of intercity bus travelers in the U.S. Intercity bus lines were a lifeline during the pandemic for communities and essential workers, and as economies re-open, they will be a tremendous driver for sustainable growth across the country. The FlixBus Global network serves over 2,500 destinations in 36 countries outside of the US with 400,000 daily connections. Greyhound currently connects approximately 2,400 destinations across North America with nearly 16 million passengers each year.
I'm not super familiar with Flixbus' Europe operations, but I did find their US service comfortable for the trip I took earlier this week. Hopefully they'll bring Greyhound up to Flixbus standards and not have Flixbus drop to Greyhound standards. We shall see...
 

Caesar La Rock

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All I can say to Flixbus, good luck. When you acquire something that's been battered for as long as Greyhound has been, its going to take miracles to bring the credibility of that company up. Hope Greyhound does have a future.
 

LookingGlassTie

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I'll see how this (may) play out in my area.

When the Monticello Ave. station in downtown Norfolk closed, a Tinee Giant a mile or so east on Brambleton Ave. was designated as a simple stop. Then, Greyhound moved its Norfolk stop to the Amtrak station on Park Ave.

With this acquisition, I don't know if that will change now.
 

SubwayNut

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The main thing I hope they don't dismantle is Greyhound's ticket system and most importantly Interlining agreements with local carriers (that primarily operate as subsidized services using 5310 Intercity bus funds that states have to spend on bus service to underserved communities) that interline with Greyhound to provide national bus service to lots of small communities. It's a funding program handled by the states so it isn't a cohesive network. Michigans network operated by Indian Trails (which also interline's with Amtrak for thurway connections) is a really good example of the lifeblood importance it is the only reason there's any intercity transportation service to anywere north of Grand Rapids-Lansing-Bay City, and suppliments Wisconsin's network. It's why
 

jebr

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The main thing I hope they don't dismantle is Greyhound's ticket system and most importantly Interlining agreements with local carriers (that primarily operate as subsidized services using 5310 Intercity bus funds that states have to spend on bus service to underserved communities) that interline with Greyhound to provide national bus service to lots of small communities.
Same here. I did notice (well before this announcement) that they do sell tickets for other companies (Wanda Coach is available as an option on flixbus.com, even where Flixbus runs/contracts out duplicative service.) Hopefully they'll be able to do that with whatever the final ticketing system winds up being and the interline agreements port over seamlessly. I'm not as tied to the exact booking system (Greyhound's appears to still be pretty meh, and I like that Flixbus' system allows for seat reservations.) While not an option in the US currently, in Europe they do have notes on their website that they sell tickets from travel agencies, ticket outlets, and the bus driver (including by cash, which is a bit surprising.) If they port those options over to their US operations, I think that'll settle most of my concerns for ticket purchasing - the interline companies could be treated as travel agencies/ticket outlets, and there's an option for those who simply cannot buy a ticket online with a card.

EDIT TO ADD: It looks like they have a few in-person ticket sales locations in the US, though they're still closed due to COVID-19. At any rate, that gives me some confidence that they're okay with in-person sales as a concept, and that option likely won't go away entirely whenever Greyhound gets merged into Flixbus.
 

neroden

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Well, I went and checked, and they have no route map and no timetables and no list of routes, so it seems pretty mickeymouse to me. They don't even have a "contact us" link. I'm sure they won't do any worse than Greyhound, but this is a recipe for shrinkage and irrelevance.
 

SubwayNut

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EDIT TO ADD: It looks like they have a few in-person ticket sales locations in the US, though they're still closed due to COVID-19. At any rate, that gives me some confidence that they're okay with in-person sales as a concept, and that option likely won't go away entirely whenever Greyhound gets merged into Flixbus
That's excellent to hear. It's super important that these services still accept cash. There was a period of time (2012 to 2015 at least, I haven't ridden Greyhound or any of its interline carriers since 2016) when it was cheaper (saved a couple bucks in service fees) to book a ticket online, get a confirmation code pay cash at 7/11, then pay online.
 

jebr

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Well, I went and checked, and they have no route map and no timetables and no list of routes, so it seems pretty mickeymouse to me. They don't even have a "contact us" link. I'm sure they won't do any worse than Greyhound, but this is a recipe for shrinkage and irrelevance.
They do have an interactive map where you can click a city and it'll auto-populate what cities you can easily get to from there. When I click on their "help" link in the bottom right of the home page, it goes to a page where there's a "chat with an expert" window available as well. I didn't try that option, but it appears to be there. I did some digging and I was eventually able to find a phone number (at least for wheelchair/assistance requests) on one page as well. Certainly not particularly easy to find, but I've seen that with a lot of budget options lately.

That said, in the course of eight years they've grown to become the largest intercity bus company in Europe. Apparently the lack of timetables and the ideal route map isn't crippling them there. I'm really not convinced that "not having timetables" is some sort of death knell - it can be nice, but I've taken plenty of trips on transportation that doesn't have published timetables and it's worked out fine.
 

SubwayNut

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Well, I went and checked, and they have no route map and no timetables and no list of routes, so it seems pretty mickeymouse to me. They don't even have a "contact us" link. I'm sure they won't do any worse than Greyhound, but this is a recipe for shrinkage and irrelevance.
Disney World Transportation doesn't publish timetables and people rely on it on their vacations...The Mouse knows how to run a Transit System in its own unique way.

Airlines haven't published a printed timetable in years eaither, nore do a some large transit agencies, Amtrak and the LIRR comes to mind.
 

neroden

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Disney World Transportation doesn't publish timetables and people rely on it on their vacations...The Mouse knows how to run a Transit System in its own unique way.
Well, two things: first, they run high frequency. You don't need to publish timetables when you run at subway "there's always one coming in 5 minutes" frequency. We're not talking about that with any intercity service on the planet. Second, they run an awful lot of point-to-point services, and more about that later.

Airlines haven't published a printed timetable in years eaither, nore do a some large transit agencies, Amtrak and the LIRR comes to mind.
People can print their own timetable from the PDF -- it is not dead trees which is important, it is timetables, and the LIRR continues to publish timetables.

Airlines are also point-to-point, which makes it easier to extract timetables from the readily available data. I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to make trains or buses point-to-point.

People care which trips can be made WITHOUT TRANSFERS. With airlines and other point-to-point services, this is easily found. With regular train services with timetables, this is easily found.

With substandard fly-by-night operations like Flixbus, this is NOT easily found; they are stuffing fake services into their map, services which require transfers, without showing the actual operations map. It's essentially an attempt to defraud customers.
 

neroden

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That said, in the course of eight years they've grown to become the largest intercity bus company in Europe.
"Biggest midget" isn't impressive. Intercity buses are really not doing well anywhere where planes or trains exist. They compete by being attempting to be the cheapest option for people with no standards or no money, which perhaps explains the desperate attempts to defraud customers.
 

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Disney World Transportation doesn't publish timetables and people rely on it on their vacations...The Mouse knows how to run a Transit System in its own unique way.

Airlines haven't published a printed timetable in years eaither, nore do a some large transit agencies, Amtrak and the LIRR comes to mind.
What's this?


All the branches are here. I don't know whether they still distribute printed copies at Jamaica & NYP, but the pdf is formatted as a pocket-sized timetable, same as they distributed at all stations pre-MTA.
 
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If Flix is going to expand it’s operations in the US, I’m curious if they’ll ever try bringing over the FlixTrain concept from Europe.

If you’re curious, Simply Railway did a nice review of FlixTrain from Berlin-Stuttgart last year (*HERE*).
 

sttom

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If Flix is going to expand it’s operations in the US, I’m curious if they’ll ever try bringing over the FlixTrain concept from Europe.

If you’re curious, Simply Railway did a nice review of FlixTrain from Berlin-Stuttgart last year (*HERE*).
The likelihood of that is low. Seeing as how every major railroad has "joined" Amtrak or merged with someone who did pretty much blocks competition. The only reason Brightline exists is because the Florida East Coast railroad is in the gray area of didn't have passenger trains when Amtrak was created and Amtrak never attempted to run services over their lines. The KCS is also in this boat, but that might matter much longer. Then there are Class 2s and 3s which are also kind of in the gray area, but most of them aren't long enough to matter or provide for a useful system. They could try, I'm not saying they can't, just that there are a lot of hurdles for them that don't exist in Europe. And this is before we even talk about the railroads and what they'd think.
 

Willbridge

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Flix and the other private operators have struggled to get access to the government-owned legacy rail lines in Europe but it's nothing like trying to deal with privately-owned legacy rail lines in the U.S., except for those struggling with low traffic volumes.

I've followed Flix since they began and the main worry for this country and Canada is described above -- the intricate relationships between state or provincial-sponsored regional bus services and Greyhound. I was involved in setting up the Colorado operations and it's complicated.

The second concern is the status of Amtrak Thruway services run by Greyhound. I wrote up a plan for them pre-pandemic to coordinate with Amtrak in the Pacific Northwest. They acknowledged it, asked me to send a bill, which I did and then they set up a duplicative operation before the pandemic. They laid off part of their staff, including service planners, when the system was shut down and the good team that they had assembled was dispersed. Loads before the pandemic were low enough in mid-week so that they rarely got out of their bottom bucket. They seem to have done better in the Southland but so does Greyhound.

I've looked at Flixbus in Europe and rode Krakow > Berlin in a sold-out trip. I paid cash at a ticket counter in the Krakow Union Bus Depot. The food at rest stops was much better than what Amtrak Coach passengers can expect. Leg room was not as good as Greyhound's. Riding quality reminded me of Trailways Golden Eagles, which had a European heritage.

P1050524.JPG
 

cirdan

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That said, in the course of eight years they've grown to become the largest intercity bus company in Europe. Apparently the lack of timetables and the ideal route map isn't crippling them there. I'm really not convinced that "not having timetables" is some sort of death knell - it can be nice, but I've taken plenty of trips on transportation that doesn't have published timetables and it's worked out fine.
In Europe I don't have the impression they are into the tourist market very much but are more into university students and such who do the same route regularly going to and from university. As such there is little need for a system-wide route map.

I think you will find the same for other European LD bus operators such as ALSA. Very difficult to find a system map but very easy to buy a ticket. But if you don't know your geography you can easily end up being sent off on some crazy multi-day dog-leg only to end up pretty close to where you started.

That said, there are many European train companies who are not really any better in that respect.
 

John from RI

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If Flix is going to expand it’s operations in the US, I’m curious if they’ll ever try bringing over the FlixTrain concept from Europe.

If you’re curious, Simply Railway did a nice review of FlixTrain from Berlin-Stuttgart last year (*HERE*).
Thanks for the review of Flix Trains. Here in the US we do have some similar ones; they are commuter trains. From where I live in New Jersey I can take a commuter train to Philadelphia or as far north as New Haven. The fares are much cheaper than Amtrak and the trains, which make more stops, are a little slower. And just walking up and buying a ticket is more convenient than Amtrak's bucket system. The only disadvantage is that there is no guarantee of a seat. That is not a problem except during rush hour service but then it can be a problem.

But can private passenger rail service without government subsidy succeed in the US? I am skeptical.
 

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They do have an interactive map where you can click a city and it'll auto-populate what cities you can easily get to from there.
Interactive maps are poor at disseminating more than a tiny part of the overall network and do little to inspire new travel or trips of opportunity. When I'm considering travel on Amtrak I look at the non-interactive maps they used to make where I can see everything at a glance instead hunting and clicking around.

Disney World Transportation doesn't publish timetables and people rely on it on their vacations...The Mouse knows how to run a Transit System in its own unique way.
Disney has a long and storied history of backing one transportation failure after another but you're holding them up as an example of success? The MagicalExpress buses were every bit as subsidized as the DisneyMonorail, the PeopleMover, and the DieselExhaust parking trams.
 
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cirdan

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But can private passenger rail service without government subsidy succeed in the US? I am skeptical.
I don't think they genuinely can in Europe either. Flix trains are for the most part made up of second hand cars dating to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that they bought on the cheap and refurbished on the even cheaper (if they refurbished them at all). The infrastructure they use is payed for by somebody else and Flix Train would be unbale to stump up the money for even minor modifications or additions. Probably not even a basic waiting room. And even so they are competing really only on the most profitable corridors. They wouldn't be able to grow or maintain a larger network
 

slasher-fun

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I don't think they genuinely can in Europe either. Flix trains are for the most part made up of second hand cars dating to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that they bought on the cheap and refurbished on the even cheaper (if they refurbished them at all).
Wait what? Flixtrain *did* refurbish their trains, and not "on the cheap".

You may also want to have a look at what WESTBahn, RegioJet, or MTRX are doing with brand new trainsets. And I'm not counting public-owned operators, such as SNCF operating Ouigo in Spain, Trenitalia operating Frecciarossa in France, ÖBB operating Nightjet outside of Austria, etc.
The infrastructure they use is payed for by somebody else and Flix Train would be unbale to stump up the money for even minor modifications or additions. Probably not even a basic waiting room.
They *do* pay for infrastructure, like every company that runs trains, and its not their responsibility to make modifications to the rail network or the stations, it's the network/stations owner's one.
And even so they are competing really only on the most profitable corridors. They wouldn't be able to grow or maintain a larger network
Why not? Only regional service subsidised, long-distance is not.
 

joelkfla

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Interactive maps are poor at disseminating more than a tiny part of the overall network and do little to inspire new travel or trips of of opportunity. When I'm considering travel on Amtrak I look at the non-interactive maps they used to make where I can see everything at a glance instead hunting and clicking around.
Agree. Case in point: Interactive NYC subway map that MTA is beta testing. In order to read the route letters or numbers, you have to zoom in so close that all you can see is 2 or 3 stations.

Disney has a long and storied history of backing one transportation failure after another but you're holding them up as an example of success? The MagicalExpress buses were every bit as subsidized as the DisneyMonorail, the PeopleMover, and the DieselExhaust parking trams.
Agree that Disney Transport has a spotted history, but for the record, Magical Express was outsourced to Mears, not run by Disney Transport.

Anyhow, a timetable is irrelevant for Disney buses, as for the most part they are dispatched dynamically to meet perceived or expected demand. At least that's the intention; they don't seem to have it quite figured out.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Flix bus and train companies were at first just a website-application to book seats. All but one bus was subcontractor own and run by those subcontractors. They need a single bus to advertise themselves as a bus line. When they grab the bankrupt Locomore trains they expand by subcontracted out all operations to various players. At some point the rail division try to expand into France by rebuilding a lot of railcars. (May or may not own them.) The pandemic, the French cost, and French resistance end that expansion. So ended there contracts with there rail partners and now use there newer equipment for the current trains.

With this take over it does seem there own more equipment and have more employees themselves. And have going from a website-application to a true operating company.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Anyhow, a timetable is irrelevant for Disney buses, as for the most part they are dispatched dynamically to meet perceived or expected demand. At least that's the intention; they don't seem to have it quite figured out.
Ever 20 minutes I have been told. The watch say otherwise. The friendly cast members walking over and talking to the crowd waiting for a bus, is a sure sign it going to be a longer wait then advertise.

The underlying issue is WDW likes to use other people money to make improvements to there parks. A few changes to the road system and a much easier transit time will occur. The whole computer dispatching of the bus system was a failure that never worked. The bus rapid way to Disney Spring was a good idea, if they just had spent more money and avoid the traffic lights by using fly overs (bridge).

Of course now we have another system just recently add that fails in a smashing way, and with-out the ability to handle the surge crowds called the Disney Skyliner.

In other news Universal adds a third park…
 
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