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HomeLatest NewsThe bus sector tests its liberation with the Pope's visit to Portugal

The bus sector tests its liberation with the Pope’s visit to Portugal

Date: June 15, 2024 Time: 15:39:41

The main bus companies seek to take advantage of Pope Francis’ visit to Portugal. Its capital Lisbon 75,000. Although a good part of them will arrive by plane, another important majority is already choosing to reach the Portuguese territory by crossing Spain by road.

The lack of train connections between Spain and Portugal – all of them suspended after the pandemic except Porto-Vigo, which takes half an hour longer than by car – inevitably forces you to use the bus to get to Portugal. The non-existence of rail services between Madrid, Extremadura and Lisbon, or the disappearance of the Trenhotel that ran until 2020 has caused most of the traffic to be diverted to the bus, the main resource for a low-cost paid group. To cover the existing demand, the big companies in the bus sector have announced reinforcements in their operations while testing the competition of the free market in a key market niche for them.

In Spain, the bus sector is governed by a concession model that grants authorizations for a certain company to exclusively operate a route. But this model disappears once the border is crossed. International passenger transport is liberalized and any company can put a bus between one country and another, as long as travelers do not get on and off halfway if they have not yet crossed the border. This phenomenon, called cabotage, is prohibited by the Land Transport Regulation Law, although a large part of the sector claims to repeal it.

ALSA launches new routes

While the bus sector and the Government settle their differences and clarify a hypothetical future liberalization, the big players in the sector in Spain have launched different offers and planes to reach Lisbon. This is the case, for example, of ALSA, which has decided to increase its offer of places by 50% in the 35 newspapers that it operates on both sides of La Raya.

The company of Asturian origin has implemented special measures to provide transport coverage for this event as a new night service between A Coruña, Santiago, Vigo and Lisbon; a daily service between Algeciras, Cádiz, Jerez and the Portuguese capital; daily services from Barcelona and Zaragoza, and an additional service from Madrid, reaching six daily. In addition, it increases services from Seville, the Basque Country and Castilla y León. The second largest operator in Spain, the Avanza group, also offers a daily night service between Madrid and Lisbon.

Flixbus doubles its operations

Flixbus is another of the great interested in putting their head in Spain. The German company is trying to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by the market to publicize its brand, and on the occasion of the Pope’s visit it has doubled its cross-border operations and increased 85% of its routes in Portugal. “The demand for coach travel has skyrocketed in recent months, not only because of World Youth Day, but also because of the exponential growth of tourism in Portugal”, highlights Pablo Pastega, general director of Flixbus for Spain and Portugal, in a statement issued by the company.

The company has jumped on the WYD boat after observing how travel requests between the Spanish and Portuguese capitals doubled, and grew by 54% to travel from Seville. Anticipating us, Flixbus launched a new route between Madrid and Lisbon at the beginning of June that is now complemented by a night line from A Coruña, Santiago and Vigo to Fátima, the main pilgrimage sanctuary in Portugal, which continues to its capital. The company has also set up a special work group that involves reinforcements in traffic control, customer service or emergency and crisis teams. “The entire local team will be on alert and ready to respond to any eventuality,” says Pastega.

BlaBlaCar Bus relies on its partners

Another of the international players that is already seeing significant passenger traffic is BlaBlaCar Bus. “We are seeing an increase in the activity that connects with Portugal, especially pronounced this last weekend and for next week”, explain sources from the company.

The carsharing firm, which also provides bus transport services, has not increased its number from Spain because it already did so at the beginning of the summer with new routes from the main cities in the north of the peninsula. But it has, Rede Nacional de Expressos, the main Portuguese bus company, which sells its tickets through BlaBlaCar Bus under an agreement between both parties.

Discretionary transportation also makes a killing

Another important part of the business will be distributed by the discretionary bus companies. Parishes, dioceses, ecclesial movements and other groups of young people have contracted this type of service to go as a group to Lisbon. ALSA has revealed that, through its discretionary service, it will transfer 3,500 Spanish young people to WYD with 40 buses from Madrid and another 30 from different parts of Spain. The company claims to have launched a special device for the occasion, with reinforcement of personnel.

The majority association of the sector, Confebus, assures that the bus companies have reinforced 40% of their services during the second Operation Exit of the summer. “Record numbers of travelers are expected this summer, both because of the good tourist prospects and because of the public transport promotion policies,” says the entity, appealing to the 90% discount on the cost of the ticket for young people.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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