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TRAVEL NEWS

How to get 50 percent off on bus fares with Spain’s top coach company

With Spain's state train operator offering free travel for the rest of the year, the country's leading private coach company is now also providing 50 percent discounts on hundreds of routes across Spain. Here's everything you need to know.

How to get 50 percent off on bus fares with Spain's top coach company
Photo: Refoiros/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

It seems that September is turning out to be a very good time to travel in Spain.

Not only is the state train operator RENFE offering free (yes, free) travel on certain lines for the rest of the year, but in the context of huge state-sponsored travel discounts across the country, Spanish coach company ALSA has also decided to reduce its travel rates and offer a 50 percent discount.

READ MORE: How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

The discount is available on over 1,000 national routes across Spain, and can be accessed by buying in person, online, through the ALSA app, or at ticket machines in the bus station. It’s a particularly appealing offer for people who travel regularly between two medium-distance or far-distance locations in Spain. (more on conditions below).

ALSA, which has the UK’s National Express as its parent company, operates long distance, regional and urban bus and coach services across Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and France (the 50 percent discounts are for national routes only).

ALSA’s half price tickets are available to buy until December 31st 2022 and in most cases will be valid for use until a month later, on January 31st, 2023.

Some regional, urban and metropolitan bus services, depending on the policy within each region and municipality, are also selling multi-travel tickets with discounts between 30 percent and 50 percent.

The discounts will be applied to the cost of multi-trip tickets for regional and local transport services, including city metro, bus and tram systems, bought between September 1st and December 31st 2022, as part of the Spanish government’s broader travel discount.

Some cities and regional authorities have also said that they will reduce the cost of transport tickets further by applying an extra 20 percent discount on top of the central government’s 30 percent, taking it to 50 percent.

READ MORE: GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

Víctor López, ALSA’s director, says the company wants to help “promote the family economy of thousands of Spanish households by offering significant savings at the beginning of the academic year.”

“It will allow frequent travellers to move to their educational or work places at half price, while also contributing significantly to the energy saving and public transport promotion measures outlined by the Spanish government,” he said.

READ MORE:

Alsa’s conditions

There are some conditions, however.

The discount is only valid on multi-travel tickets (4, 5 or 10 trips) and must be going to and from the same destination. 

The tickets can be used for both single and return tickets, and each trip will count as just 1 journey.

You can register on the ALSA website here.

What about changing or cancelling?

Tickets can be changed and cancelled. The offer allows cancellation if the buyer hasn’t used any of their journeys.

How can I get the discount?

The ALSA website has a short video explaining how to claim your 50 percent discount here.

Is there a limit per person? 

No, according to the ALSA website you can buy as many travel passes as you want.

What about if I already paid for full-price tickets?

You have two options – if you haven’t made any trips on the ticket, you can simply cancel it and buy a new discounted voucher, or, if you have already used it, you can ask ALSA to extend the expiration date so you redeem those trips later on and make use of the discounted tickets in the meantime.

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TRAIN TRAVEL

Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Spain's state train operator Renfe has tweaked the terms and conditions for its free train travel offer in order to avoid 'ghost reservations'. Here's everything you need to know.

Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Renfe has changed the terms and conditions of reservations on its free travel offer for regional Media Distancia services, valid until the end of 2022, in order to avoid ‘ghost reservations.’ 

Announced by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez during the ‘State of the Nation’ debate in the Spanish Congress in August, the free multi-journey ticket scheme is an offer on some trains operated by the state-owned train network, Renfe, including Cercanías, Rodalies (Catalonia), and Media Distancia (local and medium-distance journeys).

READ MORE: All you need to know about Spain’s plan for free train tickets

READ MORE: GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

But some passengers have been abusing the offer, it seems, by block booking tickets and never using them. In response, Renfe have tweaked their terms for taking up the offer on Media Distancia journeys.

Unlike on the Cercanías and Rodalies routes, which are also included in the free travel offer, on Media Distancia routes it is possible to reserve a seat, and some travellers have been making more than one reservation on the same route for different times through the day or week in order to secure a place, and then choosing the most convenient departure.

As a result, many services were fully booked with ‘ghost reservations’ days before their departure and preventing passengers who needed to buy a ticket from being able to do so.

This loophole was particularly widespread on regional routes in Galicia and Castilla-La Mancha, and from now on, Media Distancia customers can only buy tickets for a maximum of four daily trips (two return journeys) on Media Distancia trains, and can only buy the return journey when the initial journey has been made.

READ MORE: TRAVEL: Tourists in Spain will also be eligible for free train tickets

“It is a question of guaranteeing the good use of the free passes for recurrent travelers and that as many people as possible can benefit,” Renfe sources said in the Spanish media.

READ ALSO: How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Renfe’s free train travel offer came into force on September 1st and will end at the end of the year, on December 31st. In order to obtain the offer, travelers must pay a €20 deposit that is returned at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made during the offer period.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, as of Monday September 12th, Renfe had already issued over 1 million free passes for Cercanías and Media Distancia trains. 

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