Express bus operators Flixbus, Megabus and National Express have had to take action to rearrange arrival and departure locations and find additional duplicate vehicles after Transport for London announced that Victoria Coach Station would close from 11:30pm Sunday 18 September to Tuesday 20 September due to the numerous road closures in the city on the days of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
FlixBus said it saw a 20% increase in bookings for UK passengers traveling to London before the funeral, with an additional 15% increase from France and 17% from the Benelux countries. The operator said it has been working with its bus partners to ensure its bus services are available over the weekend and on the day of the funeral itself.
FlixBus said it responded quickly to the road closures to ensure its buses remained operational and terminated in Hillingdon, allowing passengers to easily continue their journeys into central London on public transport. International services to Victoria Coach Station were diverted to and from Vauxhall Coach Station, while routes to North Greenwich and Stratford were unaffected.
UK Managing Director Andreas Schorling said: “We join the country in mourning the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Understandably, hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK and around the world traveled to the capital to pay their respects. FlixBus saw a significant increase in trips ahead of the weekend and we’re proud to have played a role in supporting customers during this time by running all of our connections into the city. Our thoughts at this time remain with the Royal Family, the people of the UK and the Commonwealth.”
National Express said it saw unprecedented demand for travel during the period of national mourning, as the public traveled to London to pay their respects. The operator reported that online inquiries for travel on its London routes increased by 40% as people headed to the capital to pay their respects. The majority of seats on all London services were sold between Friday 9 and Monday 12 September, the company said.
A normal timetable applied, but the transport operator increased the capacity of London services across its network to help mourners travel to the capital to attend ceremonial and memorial services, including the State Funeral on Monday 19 September.
Tom Stables, CEO of National Express UK, said: “A large number of people have wished to offer their condolences in person and we have been working hard to meet the additional demand for travel to ensure they can get to their destination safely. On the day of the State Funeral, we operated a pop-up bus stop in Wembley and had a team on site to help customers, driving around 540 buses through the temporary site in less than 24 hours.
Megabus also published on its website that bus services would end at Hillingdon instead of Victoria Coach Station on 19 September, advising passengers to travel on either the Metropolitan or Piccadilly lines of the London Underground or the Oxford Tube- Bus service which also serves Hillingdon to central London. It added: “The entire Megabus is deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty The Queen. We extend our deepest condolences to the royal family at this sad time.”