FlixBus Competitors: Who is Dominating European Roads?

FlixBus is a mobility platform on which travelers can book buses as well as trains. The firm offers 2,500 destinations in 40 countries.

The company, which is headquartered in Munich, Germany, was founded in 2011 by Andre Schwammlein, Daniel Krauss, and Jochen Engert.

Its founders were able to launch the firm as a result of the lifting of Germany’s railway monopoly back in 2013. Previously, the Deutsche Bahn was the only company that was allowed to conduct inter-city travel.

FlixBus actually doesn’t own the buses that customers end up riding in. Instead, the firm works together with local bus operators who provide the fleet as well as drivers.

The platform then provides the branding (each bus is redesigned to fit the FlixBus brand) as well as technology to manage bookings. FlixBus, as the intermediary, simply takes a cut from the ticket price.

Each FlixBus offers a variety of services such as additional services such as onboard Wi-Fi or different entertainment options.

Apart from buses, the platform also offers train rides in both Germany and Sweden via its FlixTrain service.

FlixBus claims to offer the largest bus network in Europe with 400,000 daily connections. The firm, furthermore, has expanded into the United States. Its U.S. presence has been strengthened when it acquired Greyhound for $78 million in October 2021.

Previously, it had acquired other competitors in Europe, namely Megabus (July 2016), Postbus (August 2016), and Eurolines SA (March 2019).

FlixBus is currently valued at $3 billion after having raised $1.2 billion in venture funding. It employs 3,000 people and counts over 10,000 driver-partners. In 2019, FlixBus transported more than 62 million people.  

The methodology with which competitors of FlixBus is based on publicly available information. Data points such as revenue, the number of destinations or countries, the number of transported passengers and buses, and anything else in between will be taken into account.

Competitors from North America will be excluded from this analysis since FlixBus continues to build up the market. 

It has to be noted that this analysis should not be seen as an endorsement of either service. It is merely an overview of the competition that FlixBus faces as of today.

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 6 competitors of FlixBus.

1. National Express

Headquarters: Birmingham, England

Founder(s): National Bus Company

Year Founded: 1972

National Express is Britain’s largest transportation company and facilitates over 792 million passenger journeys on an annual basis. It operates buses and coaches, trains, as well as trams that are managed by the firm’s 45,000+ employees.

The firm is active in 11 countries across the globe, with the United States being its biggest moneymaker, followed by Spain and the United Kingdom. In 2021, the group generated 2.2 billion British pounds in revenue.

National Express was launched by Britain’s state-owned National Bus Company, which wanted to bring together all of the bus companies under its network and create one streamlined entity. 20 years after its formation, National Express went public on the London Stock Exchange.

The firm has since scooped up a variety of other bus companies including West Midlands Travel (1995), Travel London (2004), and Spain’s Alsa (2005).

Interestingly, National Express also operates on a similar business model to FlixBus. It enters long-term franchising agreements with local bus and coach operators who then adopt the firm’s branding.

Source: National Express, Statista

2. Eurolines

Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium

Founder(s): Union des Services Routiers des Chemins de Fer Européens (URF)

Year Founded: 1985

Eurolines has been formed by the Union des Services Routiers des Chemins de Fer Européens, which was a consortium of 11 European national railway companies. That consortium has been in existence since 1951 and previously ran a similar service dubbed Europabus.

For the longest time, Eurolines boasted the largest bus network in Europe until it was overtaken by FlixBus. In April 2019, FlixBus actually acquired Eurolines from its then-owner Transdev. The acquisition enabled FlixBus to vastly expand its network across the European continent.

However, Eurolines continues to operate as a separate company and not all of its markets are managed by FlixBus. In Austria and Germany, for example, it is operated by Deutsche Touring. FlixBus only owns and operates the firm’s business in France, The Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Spain.

Today, over four million people are transported by Eurolines every year. It is available in 600 destinations and 36 countries.

Source: Eurolines, TechCrunch

3. BlaBlaCar

Headquarters: Paris, France

Founder(s): Francis Nappez, Frédéric Mazzella, Nicolas Brusson

Year Founded: 2006

BlaBlaCar is an online transportation platform that is primarily known for facilitating long-distance car rides. Travelers can join people who already drive a certain route (e.g., Paris to Amsterdam). Those trips are often substantially cheaper since the plans to take that route anyway.

Drivers on BlaBlaCar are ID, phone, and email verified. On top of that, they can link their social profiles (such as Facebook) and can be reviewed by other members. Additionally, BlaBlaCar offers the ability to carpool.

In July 2019, the firm officially became a competitor of FlixBus by launching BlaBlaBus. It previously acquired Ouibus, the bus division of France’s national railway company SNCF, which in turn invested in BlaBlaCar. It, furthermore, acquired Ukraine-based Octobus to expand its fleet.

Today, BlaBlaBus is available in 300 destinations, 10 countries, and transports 13 million passengers on an annual basis. The grander BlaBlaCar platform boasts 100 million members in 22 countries and counts 25 million passengers per year.

Investors have poured a total of $563 million into BlaBlaCar, which is currently valued at $2 billion. The firm employs over 1,000 people.

Source: BlaBlaCar, Crunchbase

4. FirstGroup

Headquarters: Aberdeen, Scotland

Founder(s): Moir Lockhead

Year Founded: 1986

FirstGroup is Britain’s second-largest bus and railway company behind the previously mentioned National Express. The majority of the firm’s revenue, which equaled £4.6 billion in 2021, is derived from the public transportation services that it offers to citizens across the United Kingdom.

Much like FlixBus, FirstGroup was launched as a result of lifted regulations. In 1985, the U.K.’s Transport Act, which legislated for the deregulation of the country’s local bus market, led to the formation of Grampian Regional Transport Ltd.

The company eventually rebranded into FirstGroup. The merger of the Badgerline Group plc and GRT Bus Group led to the formation of FirstBus in 1995. It has since acquired a multitude of companies such as Strathclyde Buses for £110 million back in 1996. Two years later, the firm went public on the London Stock Exchange.

Today, FirstGroup operates a fleet of around 9,000 buses and rail vehicles across Britain while employing 30,000 people. Its bus division boasts 4,900 vehicles and facilitated 887,000 passenger journeys in 2021 – on a daily basis.

Source: FirstGroup

5. Deutsche Bahn

Headquarters: Berlin, Germany

Founder(s): none

Year Founded: 1994

Deutsche Bahn is the largest railway operator and infrastructure owner in Europe. Its trains transport over four billion people every year.

Apart from operating trains across Europe, it also owns U.K.-based bus company Arriva, ships goods across the globe, and supervises and leads construction projects across the globe.

Deutsche Bahn was formed as a privately operated joint stock company and combined the railways of the formerly separated East and West Germany. In 1996, the firm relocated its headquarters from Frankfurt to Berlin.

In 2021, Deutsche Bahn generated a whopping €47.3 billion in revenue. However, the firm still remains unprofitable and lost €1.6 billion over the same time span. As a result, the German government had to bail out the firm in the past.

FlixBus itself believes it can compete against Deutsche Bahn’s train offering simply on price and service quality (as well as being on time). Back in November 2020, Deutsche Bahn also shuttered its IC long-distance buses and essentially handed the German and surrounding markets to FlixBus.

Source: Deutsche Bahn, DW

6. Omio

Headquarters: Berlin, Germany

Founder(s): Naren Shaam

Year Founded: 2013

Omio is a travel aggregator platform that allows users to compare fares across buses, flights, ferries, and trains. The company simply acts as an intermediary and does not facilitate any of the trips itself.

In fact, Omio works together with all the other companies on this list including FlixBus, BlaBlaCar, Eurolines, Deutsche Bahn as well as Amtrak, OurBus, and many others. It then takes a cut by facilitating that booking.

Its founder, Naren Shaam, launched Omio (then GoEuro) after being faced with difficulties to book a journey between Paris and Amsterdam on his phone. He, therefore, decided to quit his job in the States and moved to Berlin to launch the company.

While the Covid-19 pandemic decimated 98 percent of the firm’s revenue, it ultimately managed to prevail – and is now rapidly expanding into the United States and other jurisdictions.

Omio, which employs over 300 people, has raised $476 million in funding to capitalize on the resurging travel across the globe.

As of today, the platform works together with over 1,000 partners, has sold 33 million tickets since it launched, and is present in 37 countries.

Source: Crunchbase, Omio, TechCrunch

Hi folks, Viktor checking in! Years of experience in various tech-related roles have led me to start this blog, which I hope provides you with as much enjoyment to read as I have writing the content.