Friday, June 5, 2020

ROUNDUP: Flixbus will be running again from Thursday

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BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – Travelers and commuters in Germany can again take long-distance buses. After a two-month Corona break, Flixbus announced a restart for Thursday next week (May 28th). The green buses initially head for just under 50 stops, as the German market leader announced on Friday. Before the crisis there were ten times as many. Due to the spread of the novel corona virus, the buses have been idle since March 18. Competitors like Blablabus and Pinkbus have not yet announced whether and when they will resume operations.

“We want to make safe travel possible even in these Corona times,” said Flixbus Managing Director André Schwämmlein of the German Press Agency. For this, a hygiene concept had been developed. Buses are disinfected after each trip. The safety distance of 1.50 meters applies at stops and when boarding and alighting. Tickets were checked contactlessly, disinfectants were ready.

As with the train, seats should not be blocked, as Schwämmlein said. “That is not economically feasible.” However, passengers must wear face masks during the entire journey. Responsibility is also required here, said Schwämmlein. “We appeal to our passengers to only start their journey if they are symptom-free.”

Despite the higher effort, the trips should not become more expensive. “We assume that we can maintain the price level that we had before the crisis.”

In addition to major cities such as Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main and Munich, smaller cities such as Bayreuth, Himmelkron, Titisee-Neustadt, Weimar and Wolpertshausen are also reported, as reported by Flixbus. Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark are also in use again. Toilets are not opened so that passengers do not meet on the bus. However, the buses regularly lead to rest areas, the company said.

“We will survive this crisis,” said Schwämmlein. The company is very well financed. Flixbus does not have its own buses, but arranges the booking for medium-sized bus companies. “It’s a dramatic situation in the industry,” said Schwämmlein. “But our partners are all still there.”

Flixbus carried more than 62 million passengers worldwide in 2019, and expansion abroad should continue this year. Now it’s about getting going again. It is not yet certain when the Flixtrain train offer can be booked again.

“It feels a bit like the Flixbus network from 2013,” said Schwämmlein. 26 buses will be on the road in Germany, Austria and Switzerland next week. Flixbus is counting on being able to drive across borders again soon. “We hope that a responsible European solution will be established in the next few weeks.”

Flixbus supports calls from the bus industry for state aid. “Everyone survives three months, but we have to think about how to help in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Schwämmlein. “Otherwise, many will not survive.” Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) recently announced aid of around 170 million euros for the bus industry.

At the same time, aid worth billions is planned for Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa. “Of course you have to act, traffic is important,” said Schwämmlein. “But it is important not to use Corona as an excuse to distort competition.” The EU Commission must look at this ./bf/DP/jha

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