There has been a revolution in Germany. For years trains have had a monopoly on travel, at least at distances where flying was inefficient or not available. As there was no real competitor the German train system has gotten inefficient and their prices shot sky-high unhindered by the lack of rivals. But this has drastically changed over recent years as there is a new player on the market. Flix Bus. This long distance bus operator is now carrying over 20 million passengers in Germany per year, with predictions going for over 25 million in the years to come. (After Flix Bus took over its biggest rival Postbus it now owns 90%+ of the bus market share). Over 45% of the passengers would normally travel by train and 30% would take the car. This is serious competition for the Deutsche Bahn as there are many advantages for travelling by bus.
Why travel by Bus?
The most important argument. Money. Hamburg to Berlin is about 8€, you would normally pay about 19€ for the train ticket. You can get a return bus to Bari (the heel of Italy) from Munich for 40€ !!! The bus tickets are simply ridiculously cheep.
Another great thing about travelling by Bus is that there are far fewer, if any stops, most of the time you just go from A to B. One benefit of this is that there is no danger of missing your stop (yes I sometimes fall asleep on the train) as your stop is pretty much always the last and only stop on the journey.
The seats are about the same size as a train seat but there is one huge advantage of travelling by Bus. The wifi, currently the Internet on the German flixbus system is fantastic and simple to use, plus there are audio books, a big selection of music and movies to watch via the media centre that is available to be accessed via your tablet or phone. Its like being on a plane. So you can be listening to the latest Daft Punk album while reading the latest thriller or watching the most recent hollywood blockbuster or you can be sitting on the train struggling with the wifi and gazing at the boring Deutsch Bahn magazine.
Travelling by Bus is casual and easy, Busses always leave on time and the journey is comfortable.
However of course there are many problems with bus travel especially when compared to the train, the most obvious being time. Train journeys are always faster than a Bus and traffic can be a big problem, after all busses don’t go on rails. Also the Bus stations are normally farther from the city centre than train stations which adds time to the total journey as you have to hop on the local transport.
In conclusion no Business man is going to leave the train for a Bus on his daily commute but this is a great means of travel for those that have the time or who could do with having the money (most people that don’t have a company to pay the travel). Personally if I was going on a weekend leisure trip to Berlin I would take the Bus, but for work I would always go and take the train.
I predict that in future the popularity of the long distance busses will spread to other countries, but don’t worry friends of train travel – trains have been around for hundreds of years and aren’t going anywhere.