Overview of Bus Providers in Europe
Bus and coach travel in Europe is popular as it is usually very low cost and offers a large number of connections to just about anywhere across the continent. Coach and bus stations in Europe are very common and can be found even in rural areas and smaller villages as they may provide the only connections to larger urban areas in some countries. Regular services between large cities are the most popular, and in some cases can be a great alternative to train travel. Bus travel in Europe is usually covered by a wide range of providers, with many more routes being offered by deregulated private companies. As a result, tickets purchased for buses or coaches can rarely be used in conjunction with other transport methods. However, some regional or city companies may offer promotional tickets or tours via come coach and bus companies, so it is always worth investigating further.
There are hundreds of bus and coach carriers across Europe, and some of the most popular include Eurolines, MeinFernbus Flixbus, iDBUS, National Express, and Alsa. Some of these providers are subsidiaries of nationalised transportation companies, while others will be privatised companies. Eurolines is by far the largest and often works in partnership with some of the others to create connections that can stretch from the South of Spain all the way to Helsinki. With so many different providers the services and facilities on buses can vary, however the majority of companies offer air conditioning, comfort seating and toilet facilities. Some other modern amenities that are becoming more frequent also include WiFi and electrical outlets.
Major Bus Providers in Europe
Eurolines offers the most connections throughout Europe as they often partner with some of the biggest coach companies as well as offer their own services directly. Founded in 1985, Eurolines has over 600 destinations covering the whole of Europe, as well as to Morocco. The company carries over 4 million passengers per year and partners with 29 of the most popular and well known bus companies across Europe including National Express in the UK, Bus Éireann in the Republic of Ireland, and Deutsche Touring in Germany. Eurolines facilities vary by country, though a high standard of service is always expected and the company prides itself on its fleet of over 500+ modern and comfortable coaches. From the south of Spain, to the Baltic coast - Eurolines is simply unrivalled in terms of providing a network of bus and coach connections.
Major coach provider MeinFernbus Flixbus arose in Germany from a merger between the two largest German bus companies: MeinFernbus and Flixbus. Flixbus still operates some routes more independently, however more and more the new logo is seen on the fleet. The easy-to-spot bright green buses operate over a route network with more than 200 destinations. MeinFernbus Flixbus making over the most well connected coach network in Germany. Some of the most popular routes offered by MeinFerbus Flixbus include intercity connections between major German cities, as well as regional or smaller villages and towns. The main hubs are found in Berlin and Hamburg, but buses to and from Frankfurt and Munich are also very popular. The company utilises a fleet of modern coaches, sometimes even double-decker, which are equipped with free WiFi, power outlets and reading lights, comfortable seating, toilet facilities, and air conditioning.
iDBUS is a bus and coach subsidiary of the SNCF, which is the French state railway. Since 2012, iDBUS has been running international coach services in Europe linking major cities. iDBUS offers popular and modern coach travel options that are fast, efficient, affordable and environmentally-conscious services. iDBUS hubs are currently located at the Lille-Europe, Paris-Bercy and Lyon-Perrache stations. iDBUS runs regular services to and from London and some of the most popular routes serviced include Paris, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Lille, Brussels and Amsterdam. Within continental Europe, services also are available to various destinations in Germany, Spain and Italy, such as buses from Marseille to Genoa, Milan and Barcelona, and buses from Paris to Turin, Aachen and Cologne.
iDBUS prides itself on a high quality service across all routes. This includes their current bus fleet which meets the Euro 5 emission standard and are 100% accessible for passengers with limited mobility. Amenities such as WiFi and European 220V electrical sockets are also fitted for each seat (of course UK passengers should note to bring their own plug adapters), and toilet facilities are available on each bus. All the bus drivers or ‘captains’ are bilingual, speaking both English and French for passengers. There are not different classes available with their coach services, however a number of ticket options available includes single tickets, return tickets, group travel tickets and tickets for children. Unlike many other low-cost bus and coach services, iDBUS fares are guaranteed to remain consistent as the bus fills up or as the departure date approaches, offering fair deals and pricing for coach travel that is unbeatable to some of Europe’s most popular cities.
National Express offers services to and from practically all of the major towns and cities across the UK. The company, offering intercity long-distance national coaches, was founded in 1972 and is based out of Birmingham. It is the largest coach company in the United Kingdom, and is owned by the National Express Group, with most of their services being subcontracted to local coach companies throughout Wales, Scotland and England. With buses initially departing primarily out of London Victoria Station, National Express now offers services to over 900 destinations throughout the United Kingdom. Their partner organisation, Eurolines, also operates coaches and connections to destinations in Europe. This includes a frequent service to Amsterdam, as well as city breaks to Paris and areas of northern Spain, and totals to over 600 destinations across the continent, with additional connection coaches also available.
As a low budget travel option, National Express offer a reliable alternative to the British rail system. The air-conditioned coaches used by the company also provide reclining leather seats with seat back tray tables and power outlets, allowing passengers to charge their electronic devices. Toilet facilities are of course also available on all of their buses. Keeping up with modern times, free WiFi is available on all coaches and while on-board catering was phased out in the 1990s, passengers still welcome to bring cold food and drinks on board for the journey.
Alsa is the largest bus operator in Spain, as well as one of the largest in Europe, with 243.9 million passengers taking coaches to destinations all across the country in 2012. The bus provider is also popular for destinations outside of Spain, including intercity routes to major destinations in Portugal, France and many European capitals. The large network also offers a number of routes in North Africa. Alsa's large and modern fleet of coaches offer a variety of service types including Premium and Supra choices for greater travelling comfort and amenities, facilities specifically for children and infants, WiFi , entertainment, toilets and even on board catering and a bus attendant on Supra Plus class routes.