A dispute between FlixBus and Stagecoach over access to Union Square bus station in Aberdeen for scheduled coach services has escalated after FlixBus on 2 June accused Stagecoach of “deliberate misuse of space to keep out competitors.”
The remarkable claim comes after the row began in early May. FlixBus claimed that its bid for further slots in Union Square was refused by Stagecoach, which manages the bus station. At that time, FlixBus threatened to complain to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over the allocation of stand space in the facility.
Allegations made then by FlixBus were robustly denied by Stagecoach, which cited health and safety concerns. It fired back by accusing FlixBus of making “inaccurate” statements, but FlixBus has repeatedly claimed that Stagecoach’s stake in FlixBus competitor Scottish Citylink it at the root of the refusal to permit more FlixBus departures.
‘Evidence’ claim by FlixBus over Stagecoach practice in Aberdeen
In early June, FlixBus – which is calling the unsavoury debacle a “bus war” – said it has compiled evidence that stand space in Union Square is not being maximised and is “in fact being used largely as a parking facility for coaches and buses rather than a pickup point for passengers.”
FlixBus UK Managing Director Andreas Schorling adds the serious allegation that Stagecoach is engaging in “deliberate misuse” of the bus station in a bid to keep out the green coaches, which are operated by McGill’s Buses. FlixBus is now seeking an urgent meeting with Aberdeen City Council to seek its support in finding a resolution.
Core to FlixBus’s argument is the resulting need for passengers to board and alight at the roadside. In a pointed response, Stagecoach notes that “it is… normal for buses to stop and allow passengers to board from the street in the form of bus stops and bus shelters, which is common across the UK.”
In a further bizarre turn, both FlixBus and Stagecoach claim that the other party has not made recent contact. Stagecoach says it has heard nothing from FlixBus for “over a month.” FlixBus meanwhile claims that it has received no communication from the large group for twice that period. Mr Schorling adds that an attempt by McGill’s to arrange a meeting with Stagecoach has come to naught.
Stagecoach continues robust response to claims
In a further response to FlixBus’s original complaint, Stagecoach says that FlixBus has not used the four departure slots that it is allocated and has voluntarily decided to stop at the roadside in Littlejohn Street. A spokesperson has vehemently denied claims that Stagecoach has “forced” FlixBus out of the bus station.
They continue: “FlixBus has continued to fail to raise these complaints through the [correct channels], yet we are open to discussion via the proper method [rather] than the current, public ‘bus war’ that it is intending.”
Stagecoach continues to carry out recommendations from its safety review of Aberdeen bus station, it says. “A further meeting is scheduled for 14 June, where we will agree the new departure slots available following the redesign of Union Square bus station. Operators will be informed of slot availability after that meeting.”
FlixBus legal adviser Prof Peter Watson of PBW Law has hinted that the previously-threatened complaint to CMA will be submitted if the dispute is not “immediately resolved.” Prof Watson claims that it is a matter of public interest that the matter requires “a full and open investigation by CMA.”