The BlaBlaCar carpooling service is to purchase Ouibus, a subsidiary of the SNCF, from the French railway utility, and has launched an investment drive aimed at raising 101 million euros in which the SNCF will participate, representatives of the two companies announced on Monday.
BlaBlaCar is to acquire Ouibus (ex-iDBUS) at a price that has not been disclosed so as to expand its service and open it up to other partners and local bus operators in Europe, the start-up disclosed.
“A huge number of our carpool drivers also drive buses and vice versa; we’ve realized that there is a very, very strong complementarity,” BlaBlaCar co-founder and director general Nicolas Brusson told AFP. “BlaBlaCar is evolving by opening up to a shared mobility much broader than carpooling that includes cars and buses at the European, and even global, level,” Brusson explained.
The idea is to integrate Ouibus into BlaBlaCar’s international network, a community of 65 million users in 22 countries.
The company has announced a drive to raise 101 million euros in investments, involving the SNCF along with other investors.
“We feel like believing in this initiative, that’s why we are participating in the fund-raising,” said Rachel Picard, Director General of SNCF-Voyages.
The start-up, created in 2004, was already in partnership with the SNCF. By the end of 2018, it will be able to offer bus and carpooling trips on the oui.sncf platform. From Summer 2019, oui.sncf customers will be able to combine trains and buses, with carpooling added at a later stage. From then on, travellers will be able to combine trains, buses and carpooling with just a few clicks, the SNCF said in a press release.
A few years ago, BlaBlaCar could be seen as an enemy of TGV since they competed on long distances, Picard told AFP. “Today we have a common enemy – individual cars,” she said.
The current project is in line with the strategy of the SNCF, which wishes to transform its oui.sncf site and application “into a real personal mobility assistant” by integrating the transport solutions of other mobility actors, Picard said.