PlusBus. A rural bus network in Berlin metropolitan area

Background
In rural areas car traffic is for most of people their usual way of being mobile. Public transport is often used by students and bus time schedules are adapted to this target group. Getting the bus in rural regions more attractive for further customers, the usage of public transport has to be simple to understand and useful for everyday activity. But even some of the today existing good offers are often not well marketed. Because of these two reasons, to initiate attractive bus services and to set up better marketing opportunities, VBB developed the rural bus network named PlusBus for the federal state of Brandenburg. The name PlusBus is adopted from the “Mitteldeutschen Verkehrsverbund” (MDV), which started with that premium bus service 2012, one year before the VBB.

Beside the market targets public bus services also have a political assignment. Especially because of environmental objectives it`s necessary to get more people using public transport networks. Even when it`s hard to convince households in rural areas to abandon their car, at least we should try to offer an opportunity to the second car. Several samples of well-established bus networks in rural regions show that a minimum of hourly rides, a service from morning to evening and a good connection to the next train or bus do lead to an increased number of passengers.


Concept
In the federal state of Brandenburg the rural districts are responsible for public bus services. VBB coordinates the service of around 40 public transport companies across the state. To implement the PlusBus concept, VBB has developed in cooperation with the rural districts and the bus transport companies some common quality criteria which are valid for the whole state of Brandenburg. This refers to some already existing quality standards which have been defined for regional rail transportation. Any rural district, who wants to operate busses under the brand PlusBus, has to fulfill at least these following quality criteria:

  • Hourly rides
  • Service from 6:00 am till 7:00 pm
  • Connection to trains within 15 minutes
  • Bus service on weekends
  • These quality criteria show the customers that this good offer has clear advantages. However, in some rural districts, these quality criteria are difficult to achieve. Particularly weekend bus service is not a standard in some regions. Though participating in the PlusBus program is voluntary for every rural district and they can freely decide which bus lines should be a PlusBus. As an incentive VBB supports a joint marketing and market research.


Marketing
Focus of the marketing concept is the new PlusBus icon. It`s displayed at the bus stops and in print media. In addition there are advice notes in VBB’s web based travel planning services.
All bus lines have different regional names as “PlusBus Hoher Fläming” or “PlusBus Ruppiner Seenland” but one joint graphic and slogan: “The PlusBus. A regular interval service you can count on.”


Status
The first lines achieved a passenger increase and good feedback. A nice side effect in addition to the good transport service is the simultaneous introduction of Wi-Fi on some PlusBus, which is very well used. The PlusBus is also well received in politics and press. Even the road authorities noticed the PlusBus as a very important bus network and arranged road work together with the transport companies. The busses are now allowed to cross road work once an hour, while cars have to take a detour. So the new brand PlusBus is established as a high quality bus services in Brandenburg.
Today there are five PlusBus lines in the state of Brandenburg. More will come soon. The intention is to establish a statewide PlusBus network for Brandenburg. Moreover some regions outside of the state of Brandenburg are discussing to implement better bus services under the name PlusBus, too.

If you are interested in PlusBus, fell free to contact us. We look forward to an exchange of experience on bus services in rural areas.

For more Information: Benjamin Böning, Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg,

  • Updated : August 31, 2015

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