Berlin Approximately four months after entering the German long-distance bus market, Blablabus has doubled its number of destinations. The bus service grew out of its car-sharing service, Blablacar.
Blablabus services now reach nearly 40 stations in Germany. The information was provided by Christian Rahn, the head of Blablabus in Germany, to the German press agency (dpa).
At the end of June, the company started out with 19 destinations and offered bus rides starting at one euro. Now, bus tickets are advertised on the website with prices starting at 4.99 euros. The exact price per trip depends on time and distance, said Rahn.
" As expected, two thirds of our buses are filled on average," explained Rahn. "This figure is important in the bus business in order to be ecologically and economically sound on the road."
According to the managing director of the market research institute IGES, Christoph Gipp, the usage rate of Blablabus is roughly on par with the average level achieved in the entire German long-distance bus market. Whether or not it is profitable at this usage rate, depends on the fares charged.
So Blablabus continues to pursue the goal of gaining recognition and reach with competitive prices. Up to now, the service has not been profitable. "We are currently in an expansion and investment phase with the bus segment, in which profitability is naturally not the primary goal," said Rahn.
The brand Blablabus belongs to the French company Comuto, which was known in Germany for its car-sharing agency Blablacar. Via its platform, people can offer and search for carpooling opportunities in private cars. 7 million customers are registered there according to the service. The company is by far the market leader in this segment.
According to Rahn, the long-distance buses supplement the other services on offer. While the car-sharing opportunities are mainly for shorter distances or partial routes, Comuto is concentrating on the main transport corridors with Blablabus. "This calculation works out," said Rahn, which is also due to the fact that both services are available via the same platform.
In 2013, the market was liberalized in order to intensify competition, especially for Deutsche Bahn. Gradually, the Munich-based company Flixbus dominated the market and displaced most of the other providers. According to data from the market research institute IGES, Flixbus recently had a market share of more than 95 percent. "This market share has probably fallen slightly due to Blablabus," Gipp estimated. "But of course the dominance of Flixbus remains strong.”
While Flixbus offers several dozen trips a day on the Berlin-Munich route, for example, Blablabus currently only offers this service four times a day.
Flixbus intends to counter the attack on its own core business in the coming year and launch its own platform for car-sharing services. But Blablabus was not rattled by the announcement. "Basically, this step confirms that we are on the right track with our strategy," said Rahn.
Neither Blablabus nor Flixbus operate their own buses or employ their own drivers. They cooperate with numerous bus companies. The search for drivers is particularly difficult at the moment. However, this is a factor that "does not prevent us from our expansion," said Rahn. The market newcomer wants to expand further. "We certainly still have some interesting spots on the map that we do not yet offer."
(Orig. text: dpa /Translation: ck)