Since the liberalization of the intercity bus market in 2013, busses have quickly established themselves as an important additional mobility provider for long-distance passenger transport. According to surveys by the Federal Statistical Office, 8.2 million passengers were carried by intercity bus during the first year after liberalization. According to initial estimates, more than 15 million passengers took advantage of the new services offered during the second year. Thanks to the high level of acceptance among passengers and a continuing expansion to the route network by operating companies, the bus has established itself as an attractive and environmentally friendly fourth column in long-distance transport alongside the train, cars and aircraft.
MeinFernbus, Flixbus, Postbus and other companies are companies that have quickly established a strong position for themselves in the market, which is above all characterized by medium-sized bus partners. Today, a large number of mediumsized bus operators are active under the major umbrella brands; they have been able to grow into new areas of activity with the opening-up of this market. Bus operators have announced that they will be expanding their bus fleets further and also intend to grow the network of routes in the future as well. As a result of intensive use of the vehicles, this is also delivering benefits for bus manufacturers.
However, the dynamic development in the market is confronting many communities and approval authorities above all with new challenges. The infrastructure is not keeping pace with development everywhere; in many places, the necessary stopping points are either absent or do not adequately meet the needs. As a result, economic opportunities are being missed by communities, and the positive image of the industry is suffering. In view of this situation, the VDA has teamed up with the German Tourism Association DTV to support a project instigated by the bus operators MeinFernbus and ADAC/Postbus entitled “New coach stopping points and approval practice – opportunities for communities.” This aims to highlight the economic opportunities of new intercity bus routes for communities. Guidelines have been worked out for administrative bodies indicating best-practice examples for setting up and successfully operating bus terminals. In many places, there is need for central action to “simply” upgrade existing stopping points. Networking with other means of transport such as local public transport by rail or bus will further strengthen the attractiveness of locations, and also deliver environmental benefits. New or additional bus stopping points are only required at a few intensively used hubs, so as to permit passengers to benefit from an attractive offer. Intelligent solutions are also conceivable in terms of financing, based on not only usage fees but also further income from renting and leasing.