Want to travel to Las Vegas from Salt Lake City for just $4.99 — less than a regular round-trip cash fare ticket on local Utah Transit Authority buses or TRAX trains?
FlixBus, a European company that launched in the United States a year ago, is offering tickets for that price as it launches service on Friday on a line with stops in Salt Lake City, Provo, Cedar City, St. George and Las Vegas. It also connects in Las Vegas to other FlixBus routes to California and Arizona.
Ticket sales incur a $2 transaction fee, so the full final price for one ticket is $6.99. (But if many tickets are bought in one transaction, one $2 fee covers them all).
The company will offer once-a-day trips in each direction on the Salt Lake to Vegas line Fridays through Tuesdays. The $4.99 fares are offered until May 3, when Salt Lake to Las Vegas listed fares then start at $14.99 or $19.99 depending on the day and demand. The company says tickets will sometimes be as low on the line as $9.99.
It offers competition to Salt Lake Express, whose listed fares are between $19 (for the first few tickets available on selected trips) and $103 depending on time and demand, and Greyhound, whose listed fares between Salt Lake and Las Vegas are between $54 and $113.
FlixBus will offer service at the intermodal hub in Salt Lake City, at the corner of 300 South and 600 West. In Las Vegas, buses stop in front of Caesar’s Palace on the strip or downtown across from the Bonneville Transit Center.
“We are modernizing the traditional American road trip,” said Pierre Gourdain, managing director of FlixBus USA. “Our equipment is equipped with Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat, ample legroom, free onboard movies and TV, and the eco-friendliest form of transportation available.”
FlixBus was launched in Germany in 2013. After it expanded to 28 countries in Europe, it started service in the United States last May connecting major hubs in the Southwest. In March, it also expanded with Southern routes in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Gourdain said the company has been serving Las Vegas for nearly a year from California and Arizona, and many of its customers requested that it extend service to Salt Lake City.
“Everyone was asking for Salt Lake City,” he said. “There is a big community of Utah people in Vegas, a lot of students, and many really wanted a stronger line to the home state.”
Gourdain said FlixBus also soon hopes to open a line from Salt Lake City to Reno and San Francisco, and perhaps more.
He said the company is able to provide cheap service in part by filling its buses — saying it can make money with a full bus with tickets sold at $15 to $20 between Salt Lake and Las Vegas.
Also, it owns none of the buses itself — but offers franchises to existing bus tour companies. “So they just add a few buses," he said. “We don’t have to add maintenance yards or middle management."
Also, the company promotes itself as environmentally friendly, which Gourdain said he expects will help attract riders in Utah.
“Each bus takes about 30 cars off the road,” he said. Also, the company operates only new buses that pollute less than old models. And the company allows passengers to choose to donate part of their fare to charities that plant new trees, and help eliminate a carbon footprint for their trip.
With that, Gourdain says his company tends to attract people who normally drive cars on their trips — rather than people who usually take the bus. He said that 65 percent of all FlixBus USA passengers to date have never taken a long-distance bus previously.
Tickets may be purchased at FlixBus.com or by downloading its online app.