National Express Coaches is an intercity long-distance national coach company founded in 1972 and based out of Birmingham. It is the largest coach company in the United Kingdom, operating connections to all major cities. It is owned by the National Express Group and most of their services are subcontracted to local coach companies throughout England, Scotland and Wales. It has been one of the primary national coach companies in the UK since its founding and, since 1989, has provided serves to European destinations across the continent.
With buses initially departing primarily out of London Victoria Station, National Express Coaches now services over 900 destinations throughout the United Kingdom including Bath, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Newquay, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Sheffield and Southampton. The company also provides a frequent airport shuttle service to and from London’s major airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton as well as Birmingham and Manchester. Their partner organisation, Eurolines, also operates coaches to several locations in Europe; including a frequent service to Amsterdam that departs 5 times a day, as well as city breaks to Paris and areas of northern Spain, accumulating to over 600 destinations across the continent, with additional connection coaches also available.
National Express is a low budget and reliable alternative to the British rail system. National Express’ air-conditioned coaches provide reclining leather seats with seatback tray tables and are outfitted with power outlets, allowing passengers to charge their mobile devices. Toilets are available on all buses. National Express and its national coach franchise operate a range of vehicles such as the Plaxton Elite, Caetano Enigma, Jonkheere Mistral, Van Hool Alizee and the Plaxton Panther. Their most common vehicle, the Caetano Levante, was introduced in 2005 to provide better access for passengers with reduced mobility. Free Wi-Fi is also available on all coaches and despite the fact that on-board catering was phased out in the 1990s, passengers still have the option to eat cold food and drinks while travelling.
Through booking in advance, it is possible to secure cheap funfares which are amenable but non-refundable; the tickets were launched in response to competition from alternative providers such as Megabus. Single economy tickets are also available and, while more expensive, can be fully refunded up to 72 hours prior to travel. National Express also encourages frequent travellers to purchase discount coach cards which can provide up to ⅓ discounts on single economy tickets among various other benefits. Discount cards available include those for seniors, young persons (between the age of 16 - 26), disabled coach cards and a variety of options for travelling families. Children under the age of 2 travel for free, assuming they can sit on an adult's lap. Seats are chosen on a first come, first serve basis, however allowances can be made for those travelling with children.