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‘BlaBlaBus’: Fresh competition for Flixbus takes to the road in Germany

FlixBus has long been king of the budget long-distance bus company market in Germany. But that could be about to change.

'BlaBlaBus': Fresh competition for Flixbus takes to the road in Germany
A BlaBlaBus in Berlin. Photo: DPA

That's because a new low-cost carrier coach firm has launched in Germany – and they are offering very cheap tickets to customers. 

French firm BlaBlaCar has been running five new services in Germany since Monday. And next month, the firm, which is operating under the name BlaBlaBus, will add 10 more routes.

The first services run from Frankfurt am Main via Leipzig to Berlin, from Dresden via Berlin and Hamburg to Bremen, from Berlin to Munich, from Berlin to Düsseldorf and from Hamburg to Düsseldorf.

READ ALSO: FlixBus to take on Deutsche Bahn with low cost trains from Berlin, Hamburg

Earmarked future destinations include Stuttgart, Münster, Karlsruhe and Mannheim. They plan to offer 40 destinations by the end of the year.

With tickets starting from 99 cents until September, BlaBlaBus is shaping up to be a competitor to FlixBus.

On Monday the company said it was aiming for “more dynamic competition and a wider choice on the German long-distance bus market”.

BlaBlaBus, a brand of the French company Comuto, works with local bus companies to offer services in a similar way to Flixbus. All buses are to be equipped with Wifi, power socket and air conditioning. 

BlaBlaCar is best known in Germany for its car-sharing service, which enables drivers and passengers to network and share car journeys.

However, its move into the German bus market indicates that it wants a piece of the lucrative European budget bus market. 

As this graph by Statista for The Local shows, the number of long-distance bus services in Germany has grown in recent years. In 2018, a total of 287 were offered. 

“We want to become the leading marketplace for joint road travel,” said Germany manager Christian Rahn.

According to the company, last year around 50 million passengers travelled on BlaBlaCar carpooling services. The company is active in a total of 22 countries.

Flixbus reacted calmly to the news, reported Tagesspiegel. “We are used to tough competition,” they said.

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

Sweden's government has called for a halt to planning to faster train links between Gothenburg and Borås and Jönköping and Hässleholm, in a move local politicians have called "a catastrophe".

Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

In an announcement slipped out just before Christmas Eve, the government said it had instructed the Swedish Transport Administration to stop all planning for the Borås to Gothenburg link, stop the ongoing work on linking Hässleholm and Lund. 

“The government wants investments made in the railway system to first and foremost make it easier for commuting and cargo traffic, because that promotes jobs and growth,” infrastructure minister Andreas Carlson said in a press release. “Our approach is for all investments in the railways that are made to be more cost effective than if the original plan for new trunk lines was followed.” 

Ulf Olsson, the Social Democrat mayor in Borås, told the TT newswire that the decision was “a catastrophe”. 

“We already have Sweden’s slowest railway, so it’s totally unrealistic to try to build on the existing railway,” he said. We are Sweden’s third biggest commuting region and have no functioning rail system, and to release this the day before Christmas Eve is pretty symptomatic.”

Per Tryding, the deputy chief executive for the Southern Sweden Chamber of Commerce, complained that the decision meant Skåne, Sweden’s most southerly county, would now have no major rail infrastructure projects. 

“Now the only big investment in Skåne which was in the plan is disappearing, and Skåne already lay far behind Gothenburg and Stockholm,” he said.

“This is going to cause real problems and one thing that is certain that it’s going to take a very long time, whatever they eventually decide. It’s extremely strange to want to first suspend everything and then do an analysis instead of doing it the other way around.”  

The government’s instructions to the transport agency will also mean that there will be no further planning on the so-called central parts of the new planned trunk lines, between Linköping and Borås and Hässleholm and Jönköping. 

Carlson said that the government was prioritising “the existing rail network, better road standards, and a build-out of charging infrastructure”.

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