While all eyes are on what Uber Lyft and Didi will do this year, as private on-demand transportation services continue to consolidate, some interesting moves are also taking place in the adjacent bus and coach services business.
Today, FlixBus, the German startup backed by Daimler, General Atlantic, Silver Lake and others that has built a network similar to Uber to manage the logistics of buses, drivers and passengers on intercity routes, announced that it is entering into an agreement to acquire Eurolines. , a competing Service that is currently owned by Transdev, a European public transport giant.
The move is being made to expand its services specifically in Europe.
“This acquisition will strengthen our position as the market leader in France and allow us to further expand our European reach by integrating the Eurolines and Isilines long-distance route networks,” said Jochen Engert, founder and CEO of FlixBus, in a statement. “With this integration, FlixBus It would have an even more complete and diverse offer to attract more passengers. Our aim is to be the number one choice for travelers across Europe. ”The companies say they are currently in negotiations with groups of workers as part of the acquisition process.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, spokespersons for Transdev and Flixbus said in a statement to TechCrunch. FlixBus has never revealed how much it has raised, nor its valuation.
But it is currently the largest bus service network in Europe, with routes in 29 countries and serving some 45 million passengers in 2018. It is rumored to be an IPO and is also valued at more than $ 1 billion. .
Transdev, meanwhile, was last valued at around $ 1.3 billion, according to PitchBook, after raising nearly $ 400 million earlier this year. The France-based company has a plan to shift away from B2C services under new CEO Theirry Mallet (who took office last month), to focus on public transportation. Divestment of Eurolines would be in line with that.
“The decision to enter into exclusive negotiations with FlixBus “Regarding the possible sale of Eurolines it is in line with Transdev’s strategic plan,” Mallet said in a statement. “It would allow us to focus our resources on the core of our business, public transportation and B2B transportation services by combining best-cost performance, technological and digital innovation, specifically to improve the customer experience.”
It’s unclear how big the Eurolines / Isilines are relative to Transdev overall, but the above business appears to be growing: it carried 2.5 million passengers in 2018, 10 percent more than in 2017, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. (Still a small business compared to the FlixBus operation.)
The deal represents a major consolidation move in the area of bus services, and specifically services that help manage the movement of buses, rather than the physical bus companies themselves.
Like Uber, FlixBus and Eurolines do not assume the capital expenditures or operating costs of owning vehicle fleets, but instead provide a service to dozens of companies that operate fleets to provide them with an efficient network to sell tickets and organize schedules according to their services. . .
They also help in customizing the buses that run on their services with WiFi and other features.
While Greyhound’s long-distance bus services may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of next-generation travel, both Transdev and FlixBus have been trying to change that. FlixBus, which also recently entered the US market, began piloting VR services on specific routes this year. Transdev, for its part, has been one of the companies that builds autonomous bus driving.
With this deal, FlixBus would increase in Europe specifically to help it take on not only other modes of transport such as trains, planes and cars, but also to compete against bus companies.
Just a few months ago, France’s BlaBlaCar announced that it would acquire another hopeful in space, Ouibus, from SNCF (France’s public transport provider). With others like Uber recently launching their first forays into bus services, coach companies will have to make a move if they want to stay ahead of the bus game.