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Buses in Europe
General Information about European Buses
Bus travel in Europe can be very advantageous as an alternative to traveling by train or flying, as buses and coaches often offer lower prices, comfortable journeys and regular connections. Bus markets in many countries throughout Europe were traditionally nationalized in the 20th century as large-scale transportation and infrastructure changed. Recently, several major countries have begun deregulating the bus market, allowing for private companies to offer competitive pricing and routes that have helped to make bus travel so easy and cost effective throughout the continent.
In the UK, this began in the early 2000s when MegaBus began low priced coach services in direct competition with the previously nationalized provider, National Express. Until 2013, the German market was closed to only the Deutsche Bahn, the country’s nationalized rail operator, which was the only company authorized to offer new regular domestic routes. Since January 2013, any company is allowed to enter the market on the condition that offered connections open at least 50 kilometers (30 miles) apart and does not compete with Deutsche Bahn. France is following suit, and the French bus market will likely follow a similar success model as Germany, with buses growing in popularity, particularly amongst students and young people.
Bus services vary across Europe according to provider and destination. Travelers can expect services ranging from transit buses to comfortable coaches, short distance connections to long-haul services, and overnight journeys on select routes. Many bus operators provide scheduled bus times that are similar or at the same time each day, making planning last minute trips easy, as well as making pre-booking possible to ensure there is a space on the bus. Peak and off-peak times usually are not applied to bus services in the same way as trains; however, prices can vary according to the popularity of a particular service.