Many have failed on the long-distance bus market. Now Blablabus is trying. CEO Christian Rahn on combat prizes and the connection of bus and car.
For just over seven weeks, the new long-distance bus provider Blablabus has been on German roads, this week the company, which has been offering the Blablacar carpooling service for several years, opened the first cross-border long-distance bus connections, for example from Munich via Frankfurt and Dusseldorf Amsterdam and from Munich via Strasbourg and Reims to Paris. Questions to Christian Rahn, the head of Germany Blablabus.
SZ: Mr. Rahn, with Flixbus a quasi-monopolist dominates the market in this country. Why is Blablabus heading for Germany, a difficult market for long distance bus companies?
Christian Rahn: Yes, Germany is not a simple market, but it is also the most important market in Europe. And it is close to France, where at the beginning of July we acquired Ouibus from the French State Railways. Now we are in the process of establishing an international network.
The British provider Megabus, the Post and the ADAC – in the past, many long-distance bus companies have failed on the Flixbus superiority. What makes you so sure you will not fail too?
We are not new to the market, on the contrary. With Blablacar we've been setting the tone on the road for more than ten years with rides and Ouibus has a brand that is very well established in France. This is what we focus on and focus on the major axes, which are also internationally oriented as far as possible – this distinguishes us from many failed providers. We attach great importance to high capacity utilization of our buses and will therefore be able to continue offering very low ticket prices. And in combination with Blablacar, we will offer our customers something that others can not offer.
That means: your customer travels with the Blabla bus from Munich to Hamburg and then with the passenger car via Blablacar to Lübeck?
That's the goal, yes. From market studies, we know that exactly meets customer needs. Our task now is to interlink these two offers on a common mobility platform. This is not easy, because the bus runs according to a fixed timetable and the ride is exactly the opposite, it is much more spontaneous and dynamic. We are working to link both worlds.
But in the end, their customers are only on board in a bus with Wi-Fi on board – as in the competition. Bus driving is bus driving, there are hardly any big differences.
I agree with you in principle, but the big difference is: we offer a platform with many different offers, from which the customer can choose. And we focus on the main axes and want to fill as much as possible any free seat, so that we can continue to offer very, very reasonable prices, even beyond our current starting phase. Believe me, we will compete in the long-distance bus segment as one of many segments on our mobility platform.
Currently, you are attracting fierce prices of 99 cents each way. Critics say that this can only work if you save on safety, ie on the maintenance of the buses or in the payment of drivers.
Since I contradict decided. We put safety first and we set high standards for our partner companies in the bus industry. Each bus has a variety of assistance systems on board, with three-point seat belts on all seats and breathalyzers that block the ignition should the driver try to get drunk. In addition, none of our vehicles is older than three years. And the drivers of our partner companies are very well trained and paid according to industry standards.
If you say the long-haul bus will be one of many segments on your platform in the long-term, what else do you think? To own Blabla-Fernzüge? Or cooperation with public transport?
We have all sorts of mobility solutions on the screen, as well as the ones you mention of course. From our point of view, it is important that the solutions are multimodal, so that our customer can combine them with other forms of mobility. And they have to be sustainable and cheap so that they suit us.
. (tagsToTranslate) Train and Bus (t) Bus (t) Flixbus (t) Auto & Mobil (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung