Prior to 2013, Buses were severely limited in their operation between German cities. A few ran to and from Berlin, but otherwise, the options were sparse. This was due to a long-running government policy designed to protect the country’s train system. But on January 1st, 2013 this changed, when the German government introduced new laws that allowed for the expansion of the long distance bus system. Local trains were still protected by a requirement that all intercity bus lines run longer than one hour. For long distance travel, the new inexpensive and comfortable coaches changed the transportation landscape. By September of 2014, 300 new lines had been established, with around 20 companies currently operating in the market.
One of the best results of the new laws has been the introduction of affordable long distance transportation in Germany. A standard ticket from Berlin to Munich on the ICE high speed rail costs 116 euros one way. As of November 10, 2015, that same route cost 5 euros on Megabus, 10 euros on Postbus, and 19 on Flixbus. As a result of the intense competition between the carriers, these prices are often even lower, with Megabus offering some tickets as low as 1 euro.
Comfort and Amenities
The seats on the Deutsche Bahn compare relatively well with the trains of other European countries. Long distance buses, though, offer similar comfort for a fraction of the price. Additionally, they offer amenities such as free WiFi on board, something that the Deutsche Bahn only offers on its ICE high speed trains trains for an extra price, and which isn’t even available on regional trains.
Connections to Big and Small Cities
Although Germany has long had relatively good rail links between both big and small cities, many metropolitan cities of all sizes have traditionally lacked connections that would allow students to travel easily on the weekend. With the introduction of low cost bus travel, it's now possible to travel from Cologne to Stuttgart for the weekend without breaking the bank, or take a jaunt from Hamburg to Berlin. This is even more useful for students studying in medium sized cities like Giessen or Goettingen, both of which are now at the crossroads of several long distance bus lines.
Many Americans who travel to Germany are amazed by the affordability of airfare to destinations across Europe through low-cost carriers like Ryanair. What many of these travelers might be unaware of, though, is the expansive and inexpensive system of long distance buses in Germany. For students who can’t afford a 100 euro high speed train ticket, these long distance buses are the ideal way to travel.