FlixBus, MTRWestern launch first interstate electric bus pilot program in U.S.


Seattle-Eugene pilot route continues FlixBus’ investment and development of eco-friendly intercity buses 

Los Angeles, CA. November 19, 2021FlixBus, America’s fastest-growing and most innovative intercity bus network, has long made sustainability a key part of its mission to bring low-cost, convenient, eco-friendly transportation for everyone throughout its growing network of 200+ destinations throughout the U.S. Fresh off the heels of biogas and hydrogen-powered bus pilot programs in Europe in 2021, FlixBus, alongside its bus partner, MTRWestern, is leading the innovation of intercity bus service in the United States with the launch of a new electric bus pilot program running in the Pacific Northwest connecting Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Corvallis, OR; and Eugene, OR; on November 28, 2021.  

“Since our entry into the U.S. market in 2018, FlixBus has believed in the potential of the U.S. intercity bus system,” said Pierre Gourdain, Managing Director of FlixBus USA. “With this project, we continue our path of providing millions of people sustainable and affordable mobility and help ensure that intercity buses are central to the green mobility revolution.” 

The pilot program will run two trips on November 28, the first leg of the trip will depart from Seattle at 8 a.m. from 622 S. Lane Street and end at Portland Union Station by 11:25 am. After a charging layover at Electric Island in Portland, the bus will take on the next leg from Portland to Eugene at 4 p.m., with a stop in Corvallis at 5:35 p.m. (Oregon State University) before arriving in Eugene (University of Oregon) by 6:35 p.m.  

Riders who are interested in taking part in this transportation milestone on 11/28 can book their rides the same way as usual by visiting FlixBus online or downloading the FlixBus app to purchase low-cost tickets quickly and easily. 

FlixBus and MTRWestern leading the development of carbon neutral, intercity bus travel 

FlixBus launched the United States’ first long-range, electric-powered motorcoach in California with a route between San Francisco and Sacramento in October 2019, but this will be the first interstate pilot program featuring electric buses in the U.S. FlixBus is launching this pilot program with local Pacific Northwest partner/operator MTRWestern, who will be utilizing the Van Hool CX45E, an electric motorcoach powered by a Proterra battery with a total capacity of 660 kWh, a range of 220 miles and seating for 56 passengers. 

“Transportation accounts for 45% of Washington state’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said MTRWestern CEO Jeremy Butzlaff. “As a leader in the industry, we must help change the direction of transportation-related emissions rapidly both in Washington and nationally to combat climate change and improve air quality. The VanHool CX45E could be an important tool in that effort.” 

The Need for Eco-Friendly U.S. Infrastructure Development 

With the passage of the landmark U.S. infrastructure bill that was signed into law in mid-November 2021, the time is now to develop new solutions for American travelers to give them more options to pursue eco-friendly travel options. Notably, the bill allocated $65 billion to improve the country’s power grid, with clean energy funding being included, as well as $39 billion to improve the nation’s public transit systems, including funds for the development of new bus routes and improved accessibility to public transit options.  

FlixBus has worked in tandem with its partners and local sustainability organizations like the Wave Foundation and Climate Solutions to develop these types of pilot programs before the infrastructure bill’s passage, but even on this small scale, getting an interstate electric bus route up and running highlights the current infrastructure issues inhibiting eco-friendly transportation adoption. MTRWestern, for example, has applied for a grant from the state of Oregon to help set up a full-time electric route between Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland, but there are no publicly-available chargers designed for buses in Eugene. 

Despite these major challenges, FlixBus hopes to realize the goal of creating a full-time electric bus route in the U.S. in 2022. It’s one more way that FlixBus is fully committed to its mission of helping Americans enjoy safe, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly transit options.