FlixBus announces Edinburgh-Aberdeen route in latest step to become Scotland’s biggest coach operator

FlixBus has vowed to become Scotland’s largest long-distance coach operator as the German firm revealed a five-fold increase in services this summer, including a new Edinburgh-Aberdeen route.

UK managing director Andreas Schorling told The Scotsman the service would start operating on April 27 while the frequency of its Glasgow-Aberdeen route would be ramped up this summer from two to nine coaches a day. FlixBus operates in 39 countries.

It marks the latest stage of a significant expansion in the coach market north of the Border after Ember launched electric services between Edinburgh and Dundee in 2020, followed by a Glasgow-Dundee route last August.

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They have joined established operators Scottish Citylink, which has the largest network, and Megabus, both of which are run by Stagecoach. Megabus, along with National Express, also operate various cross-Border services, including to London.

FlixBus UK managing director Andreas Schorling said an outdated view of coach travel remained. Picture: FlixBusFlixBus UK managing director Andreas Schorling said an outdated view of coach travel remained. Picture: FlixBus
FlixBus UK managing director Andreas Schorling said an outdated view of coach travel remained. Picture: FlixBus

FlixBus’ Scottish operations, which also include services connecting Edinburgh and Glasgow with London, are provided by the fast-growing Greenock-based McGill’s Group, which has taken over the main bus operators in Dundee, Falkirk and Stirling in the past three years.

Its new Edinburgh-Aberdeen route, running five times a day, will also serve Dunfermline, Perth and Dundee, with Edinburgh-Dundee frequencies being increased to 12 a day this summer. FlixBus said it would also step up Glasgow-Perth frequencies on that route to Aberdeen to 16 a day.

Mr Schorling said the coach market was growing thanks to extra services being provided and train operators “struggling” because of disruption caused by strikes over the past year.

He said: “The feedback we are getting is that everyone who has tried coach who has not tried it before is loving it. There has been an outdated view of what coach travel is. We believe we can build the largest network in Scotland and in the UK. This is one step towards that vision.”

Glasgow-Aberdeen services will be increased this summer as part of FlixBus' expansion in Scotland. Picture: FlixBusGlasgow-Aberdeen services will be increased this summer as part of FlixBus' expansion in Scotland. Picture: FlixBus
Glasgow-Aberdeen services will be increased this summer as part of FlixBus' expansion in Scotland. Picture: FlixBus

Meanwhile, Mr Schorling said FlixBus had taken legal advice because Stagecoach, which runs Aberdeen Bus Station, had not granted it access for the extra services.

But a Stagecoach spokesperson said: "We are working with FlixBus to agree departure time slots in Aberdeen Bus Station. We hope to come to an operational agreement on timings in due course."

Robert Samson, a Scotland-based senior stakeholder manager at passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: “The introduction of a new service between Edinburgh and Aberdeen and increasing the frequency of services between Glasgow and Aberdeen offers passengers an attractive, sustainable choice of transport.

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“Coach travel in Scotland was profoundly affected by the Covid pandemic. It’s welcome to see the industry recover and offer a service to meet passengers' needs.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Bus Users Group said: "We welcome extra services where they offer genuine choice and added value. If FlixBus plans a service that isn't just cherry-picking existing routes, we look forward to seeing what they have to offer."

Paul White, director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland, which represents coach and bus operators, said: “The growth in the coach market in Scotland is fantastic and points to a growing appreciation of the affordable, accessible and reliable nature of coach travel.

"It is very much an integral part of the [Scottish] Government meeting its air quality and zero emission targets as well as reducing car kilometres.”

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