13 Dec 2019

FLIXBUS PLEADS: “LOWER VAT ON BUS TICKETS”

A year ago Flixbus started in October a pilot project with an electric long distance bus line between Frankfurt am Main and Mannheim. This December it has stopped operating this line. Not only because of technical difficulties but also because Flixbus says that “current measures in the climate protection package envisage lowering VAT on train but not on bus tickets and that such a preference for other means of transport will most likely cost “FlixMobility” greater losses and less budget for pilot projects.”

A Flixbus spokesperson said to Busworld that the e-bus pilot was designed for a one-year test (including an annual lease agreement) followed by an evaluation for future efficiency and to see whether the current (pre-series) coach could be changed for a newer model with a longer range. According to Flixbus this was 'unfortunately not possible'. In a German newspaper Flixbus managing director Fabian Stenger said that the lithium iron phosphate battery of the BYD C9 turned out to be so susceptible to faults that “the bus had to stop for several days at a time and as many trips had to be cancelled”. When the line was launched in October 2018, Stenger said: “We want to send a clear signal and show that the transition to alternative fuels is possible.”.

Also Flixbus stated that the manufacturer, BYD, could not guarantee adequate local support, “which led to unplanned bus cancellations due to occasional technical defects”.

This experience and the lack of coaches suitable for electric long distance transport made Flixbus decide to focus on other alternative fuel sources, for example fuel cell and biogas buses. Flixbus believes these can go into operation from 2020 and 2021, respectively. “That said, we do not rule out a new e-bus for the German FlixBus fleet, and a pilot would also be conceivable in other markets if the general conditions are right.” In France it has a e-bus pilot running and that seems to be successful thanks to local manufacturer support. Additionally, an e-bus test was done in the United States and Flixbus is planning to incorporate e-buses into its American fleet in the coming years.

In this regard Flixbus suggests that such investments are only possible if the environmentally friendly means of transport in Germany, the bus, is not penalized for tax purposes. Flixbus spokesperson says: “Current measures in the climate protection package envisage lowering VAT on train but not on bus tickets. Such a preference for other means of transport will most likely cost FlixMobility greater losses and less budget for pilot projects.”



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