France is still number one

20 August 2014  •  Author(s): Frédéric Baverez, CEO of Keolis France

Frédéric Baverez, CEO of Keolis France

Frédéric Baverez, CEO of Keolis France

Keolis is the largest public transport operator in France, its home country, boasting the highest market share in urban transportation with 45% of the trips on the open market. Although its international activities are expanding, France still generates Keolis’ largest share of revenue. In 2013, 54% (€2.7 billion) of total global revenues of €5.1 billion were generated at home. The 14 other countries where the company now operates generated 46% (€2.4 billion). Despite being proud of its fast-growing international activities, exclusively for Eurotransport, Frédéric Baverez – CEO of Keolis France – explains why the transport operator’s biggest market remains France.

In urban transport, Keolis operates in close to 90 French cities, including Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Rennes, Orleans, Dijon, Tours, Caen, Angers, Lens and Brest. In 2013, revenues from urban networks increased 6.4% and the company retained 99% of its urban contracts. 

Keolis is also acting as technical advisor for publicly-owned operating companies in Strasbourg, Metz, Le Mans and Pau. It should be noticed that Keolis is also France’s leading hybrid bus operator. 

In intercity transport, Keolis has a 20% market share, operating regional bus lines and school bus services in 75 of 96 departments in France.

Opportunities and challenges

Keolis’ history dates back 100 years. Its domestic focus so far has been to develop its expertise operating urban and intercity services outside monopoly regime. But the scheduled opening-up of the transport market in this region (by 2024 for the existing services and from now on for new services) will present Keolis with major new opportunities. 

The company’s unique expertise in operating driverless metros gives it legitimacy on projects such as the Grand Paris Express, an extensive rapid transport network for the Greater Paris area, home to 12 million inhabitants. Construction of the project is expected to begin in 2015. 

Topmost among the challenges Keolis is facing is the increasing expectation by French public transport authorities for higher quality transport solutions at lower costs. Ridership continues to grow in France, but the share of costs assumed by the passenger is constantly falling. Only 31.7% of operating costs today are covered by commercial revenues. 

In response, Keolis is building revenue by providing new services to increase passenger traffic, creating transport offers that are adapted to new travel patterns, developing tailor-made customer relation – ships to build loyalty, and opening new or extending existing tram, bus and metro networks. To follow are some of the most recent developments.

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