Life

This millennial-owned bus company is debuting in the US with 99-cent long-distance rides

Julie Bergonz

Want to travel cheap this summer? Soon you'll be able to hop on a FlixBus.

Europe's low-cost bus company is debuting in the U.S. with rides on select Western U.S. long-distance routes.

Starting on Friday, all fares start at a promotional 99 cents.

With trips starting on May 31, travelers can travel between popular destinations in California, Nevada and Arizona, like Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Tucson to Los Angeles and San Diego to Phoenix.

Once the promotion ends (no set date at press time), fares will start at a mere $2.99 and go up to $20. Regular one-way FlixBus fares average $18-$60, according to the company.

By the end of 2018, Flixbus plans to add an additional 400 connections, including the Bay Area to Southern California, though it has not announced future stations.

Launched in 2013 by three entrepreneurs — Jochen Engert, 36; Andre Schwammlein, 36; and Daniel Krauss, 34 — FlixBus quickly became a well known, low-budget bus option in Europe. Pierre Gourdain, managing director of FlixBus USA, says Paris to Amsterdam is the most popular route with American tourists. "This is where we initially saw how U.S. customers appreciate FlixBus' service," he tells CNBC Make It.

Gourdain says close to 50 percent of FlixBus customers are millennials, with most under the age of 34. Young people "are moving away from driving long distances, more than older generations. Our research shows that millennials in the U.S. are becoming more comfortable and supportive of sustainable travel methods, and they like to be able to relax, socialize virtually or work while they travel." He adds customers also include business and senior travelers.

In the U.S., 80 percent of trips are currently being taken by car, according to Gourdain. "This is the market we are after." A recent report showed Americans drive more than ever before, a 3.5 percent jump from 2014.

To help offset carbon emissions, FlixBus says it has a "green" mindset (it's also the color of the buses). FlixBus partners with the National Forest Foundation, giving passengers the option to purchase "CO2 Compensation" bus tickets (75 percent of proceeds goes to NFF projects), and the average age of the fleet is less than a year old, meaning they offer the lowest carbon footprint in the industry. FlixBus was the first company in the world to launch an all-electric long-distance bus line, between Frankfurt and Mannheim, Germany, last month.

For passengers, FlixBus offers innovations such as bus GPS tracking, free Wifi, power outlets at every seat and integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

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