FlixBus, owned by German company FlixMobility, enters the recently deregulated and increasingly crowded Ontario intercity bus market on April 7th 2022, with routes from Toronto to Guelph, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Ottawa.
FlixMobility positions itself as a “mobility provider” rather than a bus company, with local partners contracted to operate to operate FlixBus-branded motorcoaches. Its low-cost business model, with online-first ticket sales is particularly appealing to students and budget travellers. Fares in Ontario start at $11.99. However, seat selection and additional luggage incurs an extra fee.
From is first three routes launched in 2013 around Munich, FlixMobility has grown rapidly, with global operations now spanning 38 countries under the FlixBus and FlixTrain brands. FlixBus has been hoping to enter the Canadian market for some time, after entering the North American market and launching FlixBus USA in 2018.
In 2020, Pierre Gourdain, managing director of FlixBus North America, was the guest speaker at Transport Action’s online Annual General Meeting, speaking about FlixBus’s plans:
Canadian FlixBus services will be competing with GO, Megabus and Rider Express services between Niagara Falls and Toronto; with GO and OnexBus between Kitchener and Toronto; and with Megabus and Rider Express on the Toronto to Ottawa route. Each service offering uses slightly different routes. All new entrants have faced challenges starting up services while passenger numbers have been lower due to the pandemic. Rider Express also launched a service between Toronto, Kitchener, London and Windsor but has currently suspended it until the situation is more favourable.
FlixMobility stepped in to buy Greyhound USA from First Group in October 2021. For the time being, FlixBus USA and Greyhound operations remain separate, although the Boltbus sub-brand of Greyhound which competed directly with the Flixbus business model, has been discontinued.
Greyhound Canada was completely shut down months before the American business was sold to FlixMobility, but Greyhound USA services across the border to Toronto resumed in the fall of 2021 after a hiatus due to pandemic border crossing restrictions. Future FlixBus routes in Canada are also expected to include cross-border services.