to New York Can you join us on a virtual journey to New York on an electric bus? This detailed report captures every minute of this groundbreaking trip.

to New York

Can you join us on a virtual journey to New York on an electric bus? This detailed report captures every minute of this groundbreaking trip.


On March 21st, a peaceful change in long-distance transportation began with the launch of the first electric coach connecting London and Bristol, spanning 120 miles. This FlixBus service is currently the sole means of public transportation between the two cities using solely electric power.

I made a reservation two weeks in advance and paid £16.28 for the trip, which was less than half the price of a train booked early. The “walk-up” train fare, on the other hand, is £132.60, which is more than eight times the price.

However, coaches are not known for their reliability when it comes to long-distance travel. Can the use of electric vehicles change this perception? I embarked on a journey to discover the answer.

This is the sequence of events that occurred during the journey.

At 8:20 in the morning, in the center of Bristol, a line is beginning to form across the street from a shop called Prowler which sells adult products. A sleek and electric blue bus arrives calmly at the designated area, labeled as route 041E (the E indicates that it is electric), travelling from Bristol to London.

At 3.30pm

At 8:30am, our driver Francesco greeted us as we boarded the first-ever long-distance electric coach in the UK. The coach departed on time and arrived at Victoria Coach Station in central London at 3:30pm.

FlixBus driver Francesco is responsible for maintaining a clean and quiet coach as he drives to ensure the safety of his passengers.

8.31am: As we approached the first set of traffic lights, the excitement of traveling in an electric coach became apparent. The contrast with traditional buses is most noticeable when the coach is stopped. Rather than the typical growling and shaking sensation of a diesel bus, the interior of the sleek Chinese-made Yutong bus is peaceful and calm.

At 8:35 in the morning, traffic during rush hour is causing delays for drivers entering Bristol, but those leaving the city on the M32 are experiencing smooth flow. The seats on my mode of transportation are cozy and can be slightly reclined. I am currently seated in 2C, next to James Cheung, a student studying aerospace engineering who is passionate about environmentally-friendly transportation options.

At 8:38 am, the train scheduled for 8:30 am from Bristol Temple Meads departed late due to delays in Somerset. Despite the cost of £2.8 billion for electrifying Brunel’s Great Western Railway, which went three times over budget, the initial 25-mile stretch from Bristol to Chippenham is still operated by diesel engines. Network Rail does not have a definite plan to finish the electrification for this line.

At 8:45 PM, a few riders get on at a northern stop in Bristol that stops at the University of the West of England campus.

At 8:50 in the morning, the coach merges onto the M4 highway where a sign states that London is 112 miles away. The engine emits a peaceful hum.

It is now 9.10am and it’s time to do a passenger count. Out of the 46 available seats, 33 are currently filled. Unfortunately, a couple with a baby were not able to board at Bristol because they did not have a car seat. However, there is still room for one passenger in a wheelchair.

At 9:35 AM, as I passed by Membury Services, the M4 motorway was shrouded in a light mist. It was a gentle reminder that travelling by train is considerably safer than traveling by road. (FlixBus has an excellent safety record, thanks to their professional drivers.)

At 9:41am, there will be a reduction in speed for the initial major road construction, where three lanes will become two and a speed limit of 40mph will be enforced for the contraflow.

At 9:49am, we are passing the A34 junction leading to Newbury on our coach, when a bright green FlixBus from Cardiff overtakes us in a daring manner. London is now 56 miles away.

At 9:56am, there was an occurrence of motion sickness involving a young child.

At 9:59am, as we approach Reading, we come across the most thought-provoking sign on the M4: “Take Exit 11 for the Oracle.”

“At 10:11am, a sign reads ‘No hard shoulder for 22 miles’ as the M4 highway transitions from three to four lanes by utilizing the hard shoulder as a travel lane. Francesco maneuvers the bus into this lane as they continue towards London, which is 34 miles away.”

Traveling on the M4 highway, the bus is on the way to London.

At 10:12 in the morning, the GWR train from Bristol, which was supposed to leave at the same time as our bus arrived at London Paddington, was delayed. However, it has made up some time during the journey and is now only two minutes behind its schedule.

At 10:27 in the morning, while riding on the bus, the sun emerges for the first time exactly as we approach the Slough exit. Is this merely a chance occurrence?

At 10:30 in the morning, many cars choose to take the M25 instead of the M4 due to its appealing qualities. There are not as many vehicles that travel on the last part of the M4 headed towards London. On the road, a National Express coach with the number 040 passes by. This coach runs at the same exact times for departure and arrival as another service, but it is emitting pollutants, which is a common issue among FlixBus and Megabus coaches.

In Heathrow, a mile south, there are streams of non-electric planes arriving and leaving.

At 10:38am, the traffic slow down known as the Middlesex crawl occurs as the M4 reduces from three lanes to two, a result of poor planning in the 20th century. Strangely, I was able to use the wifi on the National Express coach, despite the wifi being advertised for FlixBus not working.

At 10:42 in the morning, we pass by the Chiswick flyover. While not as grand as Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the view from the top of the FlixBus is still remarkable. The towering Shard can be seen on the horizon. As we make our way down to street level, a sign welcomes us to Central London, just 7 miles away.

At precisely 10:46 in the morning, we will be at Hogarth Roundabout, the location of Fuller’s Brewery. It is important to note that no consumption of alcohol or smoking is permitted on the FlixBus or any other scheduled bus or coach in the United Kingdom.

At 10:52am, the Great West Road is not functioning at its fullest due to ongoing construction. However, we still managed to arrive at our designated drop-off location in Hammersmith eight minutes ahead of schedule. The battery level still indicates 38%.

At 11:12am, Francesco has the challenging task of navigating his bus and passengers through the reckless and thoughtless drivers of west London. The worst behavior often comes from those driving Tesla and BMW vehicles. Additionally, the journey becomes even more thrilling thanks to the sporadic parking of delivery vans along Earl’s Court Road.

At 11:20 in the morning, London stands out from other major cities by keeping its primary bus station in the heart of the city. As we approach Victoria Coach Station, we merge into a line of buses traveling along the Chelsea Embankment. A boat from Uber glides by, oblivious to the traffic on the road.

11.28am: Outside the Army Museum on Royal Hospital Road, a camouflaged tank is pointing its gun at us. I am faintly surprised the government hasn’t weaponised this feature as part of Sadiq Khan’s alleged “war on motorists”.

Pimlico Road is known for its diverse mix of antique shops, designer boutiques, and delicatessens. Despite the bustling atmosphere, the road is still wide enough for an electric FlixBus to navigate through.

Final destination: the place where passengers arrive at Victoria Coach Station in the heart of London.

At 11:40am, we were delayed by 10 minutes due to crowded conditions at the arrivals terminal in Victoria Coach Station, but we were still in good spirits.

“Fellow passenger James Cheung states that the journey between Bristol and London was very enjoyable, peaceful, seamless, and dependable. It is highly recommended.”

Francesco needs to bring his coach to the south side of the river at Battersea to charge it. When using fast charging, the battery will be fully charged in 90 minutes. He plans to leave for his return journey at 2:30pm.

Simon Calder, also known as The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about travel for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key travel issue – and what it means for you