Estonia’s Lux Express sees a big growth in passengers and buys more buses.
Bus travel seems to be the increasingly preferred mode of transport between the Baltic capitals, in the absence of rail services in the region and developing a reputation for being as convenient as air travel, especially given some of the buses’ spacious ‘lounge’ areas at the back of the coaches.
The buses of Lux Express, a company owned by the Estonian group Mootor Grupp, carried 2.4 million passengers on all routes last year.
The Tallinn-Riga service was used by 25% more passengers, growth that according to Andrus Treier, chairman of the board at Lux Express reflected its popularity among leisure and business travellers alike and has emerged as a strong competitor to air travel.
“Considering the time spent at the airport, the travel time is the same as with air travel, but those choosing the bus for a round trip will gain a full workday’s worth of additional time for work or rest. Our advantage lies in offering people time,” he said.
Ticket to Russia
On services connecting with nearby St Petersburg in Russia, the number of passengers grew 6% during the year. But the biggest rise was registered on the Helsinki-St Petersburg route where passenger numbers surged by 22%.
Lux Express said that a new service launched between the north-eastern Estonian city of Johvi and St Petersburg has also been well received by customers. But numbers on both the Tallinn-St Petersburg and Riga-St Petersburg services stayed at the same level in 2017.
Most of the company’s tickets are sold on Estonian domestic routes, however, the busiest being from Tallinn to the second largest city, Tartu (up 12% in 2017), to the coastal resort of Pärnu (up 17%) and to Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa (up 36% in 2017), where a new departure was added.
Overall, the number of departures that Lux Express buses make per day has grown rapidly, from 80 at the start of 2017 to 120 now. Of the 63,116 departures made during the year, 93% arrived on time. More than 75% of tickets for international departures are bought online.
The Lux Express fleet consists of 82 buses that are an average age of 2.5 years old. Last year the company bought eight new buses for around €3 million. The company aims to buy a further 15 new buses this year.