Bus-schedule planner Optibus raises $107 million to boost global reach

Tel Aviv-based startup uses AI, algorithms and cloud computing to perform deep analysis and number-crunching on anything that could affect public vehicle schedules

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Optibus team, as of March 2021 (Courtesy)
The Optibus team, as of March 2021 (Courtesy)

Optibus, a maker of a schedule-optimizing software for bus fleets and public transportation operators, said Wednesday it has raised $107 million in a Series C round, co-led by venture capital funds Bessemer Venture Partners and Insight Partners.

Optibus will use the funding to continue to expand its global presence and boost its product capabilities such as optimization and artificial intelligence algorithms that improve mass transit for passengers while increasing operational efficiency, the Tel Aviv-based startup said in a statement.

Optibus uses a combination of AI, advanced optimization algorithms and distributed cloud computing to performs deep analysis and number-crunching on anything that could affect public vehicle schedules: traffic, weather, drivers who call in sick, rock concerts that increase passenger loads, road closures.
It also helps cut back on CO₂ emissions as buses can be planned more effectively, the Israeli firm says.

The startup also received funding from existing investors including Verizon Ventures, Pitango, New Era Capital Partners, Dynamic Loop and Blue Red Partners. With this latest round, Optibus has raised a total of $160 million since its founding in 2014.

Optibus’ planning module uses a combination of map satellite and street level pictures to let planners visualize and plan bus routes quickly and effectively (Courtesy)

“Effective public transportation is a critical part of a well-functioning society, and with the rise of new mobility options and electric vehicles, paired with the added challenge of the pandemic, city operators face more complexity than ever,” said Alex Ferrara, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “Optibus stands out as a modern cloud-based solution that cuts through this complexity, allowing transit operators to plan routes and optimize schedules in minutes rather than days, promoting a more affordable and passenger-friendly experience.”

The startup recently launched its new Geospatial software suite, which aims to make transportation networks in cities more passenger-friendly by visualizing crucial geographic information while planning routes. These could be bike paths that riders may use on the way to or from public transit, or the shopping districts, schools, health clinics or job centers where passengers may want to go. The suite can also show demographic data, highlighting how certain route changes could affect residents’ access to public transit. These capabilities can facilitate data-driven decisions that have the power to “significantly improve the accessibility, reliability and performance of networks that affect the lives of millions of passengers,” the company said in a statement.

“The pandemic has made it more challenging for cities and transportation operators to provide safe and efficient public transportation, while also highlighting just how essential these services are,” said Optibus CEO and co-founder Amos Haggiag. “It’s now of critical importance that we modernize the public transit industry not only for the industry’s sake, but for the communities around the world that seek transit equity, freedom of movement for all residents, and environmentally sustainable cities. This funding will help us do just that.”

Amos Haggiag, left, and Eitan Yanovsky, co-founders of Optibus (Courtesy)

“The product strength and expansion of Optibus comes at a time when cities and transit operators need all the tools, they can get to build back better in the aftermath of COVID-19, improving the quality of their public transportation networks while reducing operational costs,” said Teddie Wardi, managing director at Insight Partners. “We believe that the Optibus platform will become the gold standard for mass transportation planning and delivery globally.”

Founded in 2014, Optibus software has been adopted by transit operations in over 450 cities around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, London, Melbourne, Brasilia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Customers include US agencies LADOT (Los Angeles), NICE (Nassau County, New York) and AVTA (Antelope Valley, California), and two of the largest bus operators in the UK, First Group and Stagecoach, the statement said.

Bessemer Venture Partners is an early-stage venture capital firm with a portfolio of more than 200 companies.

Insight Partners is a global venture capital and private equity firm investing in technology and software companies. Founded in 1995, Insight Partners has invested in more than 400 companies worldwide and has raised through a series of funds more than $30 billion in capital commitments.

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