Paris-based carpooling platform BlaBlaCar makes bid to acquire Eastern European bus ticketing startup Busfor

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Paris-based BlaBlaCar, the long-distance carpooling platform that has recently expanded its offer to include buses, has made an offer to acquire Busfor. With offices in Moscow, Kiev, and Poland, Busfor is the leading online bus ticketing platform in Russia and Ukraine.

The acquisition will expand BlaBlaCar’s online inventory of third-party bus operators in a region where BlaBlaCar counts over 25 million members.

The move is part of BlaBlaCar’s global strategy to build a multimodal transport network offering carpooling and buses on a single platform to respond to a greater diversity of passenger needs. Where buses can cover popular roads at low prices and are bookable in advance, carpooling offers a uniquely granular network connecting any destination at a low price, even at the last minute.

Proposing complementary mobility solutions will increase the appeal of the offer for travellers, helping both carpoolers and bus operators to fill up their vehicles.

Last year, BlaBlaCar broadened its shared mobility offer beyond carpooling. In the fragmented Russian and Ukrainian bus markets, the platform began integrating buses into its marketplace, working with third-party bus carriers to create value for all market participants. This is different from the strategy it adopted in western Europe, where the online bus market is more mature, and where BlaBlaCar acquired Ouibus in 2018. It’s now introducing its own branded bus service, BlaBlaBus, in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

With 7,000 bus carriers across Russia, Ukraine and Poland, Busfor will reinforce BlaBlaCar’s position as the leading road mobility provider in the region, where it will retain a pure marketplace model. The region is just starting to shift to booking buses online; currently, online booking represents only 10% of the region’s multi-billion bus market. As the leading online mobility player with over 25 million members in the region alone, BlaBlaCar is ideally placed to seize this sizeable market opportunity and help improve the experience of travellers and bus carriers alike.

“We are thrilled to join forces with a leading regional player that has strong operating results and state-of-the-art technology,” said Nicolas Brusson, BlaBlaCar’s co-founder and CEO. “By growing a multimodal bus and carpooling offer together and by accelerating the transition from offline to online travel booking in Russia and the CEE region, we can better serve bus carriers and passengers, and improve long-distance mobility across the region.”