St. Petersburg residents have a new, affordable option for taking a quick trip to Tampa or a longer journey to South Florida.
FlixBus, a low-cost intercity bus service that got its start in Europe, is now offering service to and from downtown St. Pete twice a day, four times a week. The bus will depart from 922 Central Ave. North at 7:50 a.m. with stops in downtown Tampa, Sarasota, Ft. Myers and Miami International Airport before reaching the termination point in downtown Miami at 1:35 p.m. The reverse route will return travelers to St. Pete at 8:50 p.m.
In May, the city council unanimously approved a one-year agreement with FlixBus, though it was in a complete service shutdown due to Covid-19 at the time. In June, the company began slowly reintroducing bus service between Orlando and Miami, while keeping St. Pete on the radar for when things began to return to normal.
“The pandemic slowed our growth plans across the country and we, along with many others, had to take stock and change things,” said Joanna Patterson, the company’s head of business development. “But St. Pete has always been on our list and we’re extremely excited to be there.”
FlixBus, which launched seven years ago in Germany, has been operating in the U.S. since 2018, with bus routes in 138 destinations across the country. Known for its lime green buses outfitted with free WiFi and plenty of power outlets, FlixBus ridership tends to skew younger. However, Patterson said, it does attract riders from across all demographics, many of whom are new to bus travel. According to FlixBus survey data, nearly 65 percent of its first-time riders had never taken a long-distance bus before.
Riders can book travel online with the option of adding “CO2 Compensation” to their trips to help offset their carbon footprint. They can also track their bus in real time through the FlixBus app. Due to the pandemic, additional safety precautions have been put in place such as reserved seating and extra sanitation between trips. Riders are also required to wear masks.
While service is currently only available Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday, that’s likely to increase in the future. A St. Pete to Orlando route is in the works, though no date has been announced yet, and FlixBus also plans to introduce electric buses into its fleet by 2021.