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‘Setting a new standard’: FlixBus continues to grow in Ontario

The transit company, which came to Kitchener in April, is out to make public transit better, with free WiFi, power outlets and carbon offsetting
Flix Downtown

Since launching in Canada three months ago, FlixBus has continued to grow, expanding their routes in Ontario and BC. 

The carbon-friendly transit company began as a start-up in Germany in 2011, founded by entrepreneurs Jochen Engert, André Schwämmlein and Daniel Krauss, who were intent on making sustainable travel comfortable and affordable.

Today, they operate in 40 countries worldwide.

In 2018, FlixBus launched in the U.S., and branched out to Canada for the first time this year, offering trips from Kitchener to Toronto and surrounding areas in April. 

According to managing director Pierre Gourdain, Kitchener was on the top of their list from the moment they set their sights on the Canadian market. 

“It’s a concentration of everything we love about Canada: a fast-growing, young and vibrant community with many college-aged professionals and international students who embrace alternative transportation options,” he said. “Kitchenerians are adopting Flix in droves and we’re truly excited to bring our unique business model to a market that had a clear need for safe, affordable and sustainable intercity bus service.” 

Right now, they run about 12 trips per week in the area, and are hoping to add more soon. 

They are continuing to expand service throughout Ontario, with launches planned over the next several weeks, including a new stop at Scarborough Centre on the Toronto-Ottawa line, and a new line between Toronto-London with a stop in Hamilton starting on June 30.

“With Canada Day just around the corner and a two-year hiatus on public celebrations ending, we encourage Canadian travellers to get out there and enjoy the festivities. Our network is an affordable way to check out the Toronto Jazz Festival on Canada Day weekend, take in the sights and sounds of Niagara Falls or join the big holiday celebrations in Ottawa. It’s an easy way to save money in a time of high gas prices, take the stress out of travel and keep those Canada Day plans on track.” 

They also launched their first cross-border routes between New York City and Toronto, and Seattle and Vancouver in May. 

They believe some of this growth is attributed to rising gas prices, which have surged more than 20 per cent since April. 

“Passengers are discovering that leaving their cars at home and using the bus instead for long trips can be a real money-saver,” he said. “For instance, a FlixBus trip from Kitchener-Toronto costs as low as $12.99, while the fuel prices for the same distance (114 km) in a car … with today’s gas prices would cost approximately $25.”

But he says they are also setting a new standard for intercity travel, to make “buses not just an affordable option, but the preferred choice.” 

“We need to give them something that makes the trip not just cheaper, but also better. Think new buses, free Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat, tech solutions like the ability to track your bus on the FlixBus App and more,” he said. 

Passengers are able to purchase carbon offset credits when booking, to compensate for their trip's minimal emissions by donating to environmental organizations. In North America, they’ve partnered with atmosfair to give customers the option to travel carbon-friendly for an additional (optional) cost of one to three per cent the original ticket price. 

The additional cost acts as a donation to the National Forest Foundation to “give passengers  a tangible way to reduce their carbon footprints.” 

They are also in the process of testing “new green bus technology” in the hopes that they can become the first bus company in North America to run a full carbon neutral bus route. 

After just three months in service, Gourdain says Canada is already one of their top markets in North America, with thousands of passengers each month. 

“Expect the green FlixBus to become a much more familiar sight on Kitchener and Waterloo roads in the months and years to come,” he said. “We’re just getting started! FlixBus is here to stay in Canada.”  

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