Santa Monicans who want to gamble with their money but not their transportation can now hitch a ride to Las Vegas with a new private bus for as little as $10 each way.

The Vegas route is part of the inaugural service from Santa Monica offered by the European company FlixBus. While they are a major player in the international market, the company jumped the pond to America in May of this year and has expanded its Los Angeles service to include some routes direct to/from Santa Monica.

“Driving on the Westside of L.A. is just too much of a pain for many of our customers,” said Pierre Gourdain, Managing Director of FlixBus USA.

He said the amenities on Flixbuses, such as Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat, onboard entertainment including movies, TV shows, audiobooks and video games are appealing to people that want to travel but don’t enjoy using a private car.

“This particular segment is very present in Santa Monica, these are people who will come to the bus for the first time but are definitely not the last.”

FlixBus began in Germany in 2013 and has expanded to 27 European countries. Gourdain said more than 120 million riders have used the company so far. The company operates with a franchise-like model. FlixBus manages the technology, ticketing, customer service, network planning, marketing and sales of the green fleet while local partners manage the daily operations.

The Santa Monica operation will pick up and drop off from the 1200 block of the Promenade. Busses travel to Barstow, Las Vegas and several Arizona cities (Bullhead City, Flagstaff, Kingman, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson and Wickenburg). Travelers that book in advance can find some fares as low as $4.99 and the most expensive ticket from Santa Monica is currently $14.99.

FlixBus has several other stops in Los Angeles including Downtown, UCLA and USC with more destinations available depending on the departure location. Destinations available from Los Angeles include San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego. A same-day booking from USC to San Franciso costs $19.99 for a travel time of just over eight hours. Gourdain said prices will increase over time as more people literally get on board but that the service is committed facilitating travel for everyone with low fares.

Gourdain said the company plans to expand the Santa Monica offerings with San Diego being the most likely addition.

He said the company is a lean, efficient operation that leverages technology to lower costs. They use a data-driven approach to expansion and said the West Coast was a target for them after they saw American riders of their European busses actually ranked the service more favorably than the European riders.

According to Gourdain, adapting to the American market has been relatively easy because American’s understand the entrepreneurial spirit of the company and the country has a strong infrastructure for busses. He said American customers are benefitting from the lessons learned while working in Europe.

“Now we come with the best product we can find in the industry, now we come in with something really strong,” he said.

Gourdain said the local municipalities have been welcoming to the company because they provide a missing piece of the transit puzzle for individuals who want to drive less. He said those customers can use a shared bike/scooter for their short trips, carshares for the medium trips and now the bus for their long-distance travel.

He said the biggest challenge is changing the public perception of the bus and making bus travel cool again.

“Santa Monica has been plagued by traffic for the past year and FlixBus is part of the solution here in offering an alternative means of transportation,” he said.

The Flixbus stop is located at 1200 3rd Street Promenade. For more information, visit www.FlixBus.com or download their app.

editor@smdp.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.