Keolis develops and consolidates its position as a multimodal mobility operator, well established in the regions it serves and promoting low-carbon mobility that fulfils needs and cares for its communities. Both in France and worldwide, 2023 was a highly successful year for Keolis. Chairwoman and CEO Marie-Ange Debon reviews the highlights of the past year and the Group’s prospects for the future.

Interview with Marie-Ange Debon, Chairwoman and Group Chief Executive Officer

What’s your view of how Keolis fared in 2023?

2023 was a highly successful year for us. Despite ongoing geopolitical instability and rising energy costs, we managed to maintain our financial equilibrium. We recorded a number of major business achievements, which fortify our position as a pivotal multimodal player. In France, several partners awarded us new contracts, among them Auxerre and Bourg-en-Bresse. In the Greater Paris region, we were selected to operate the new automated metro lines 16 and 17 as well as the T4 and T11 tram-train lines – all strategic contract wins. Keolis now operates the services used for one in every three trips in the outer Paris suburbs. Worldwide, we continued to develop our footprint, winning bus contracts in California, Texas and Arizona, as well as in Sweden, and a train contract in the Netherlands. Keolis demonstrated its capabilities and experience in delivering transport services during major sporting events, earning recognition for its outstanding performance during the 2023 Rugby World Cup, when it handled some 800,000 trips for 15 matches. I’d like to thank our teams for their remarkable dedication and professionalism throughout the event. And we intend to deliver top-notch transport services in Paris for both athletes and people with reduced mobility.

Keolis aims to become the global leader in low carbon transport. What developments did 2023 bring?

Decarbonising transport is a strategic objective for the Group. Our goal is to achieve net zero no later than 2050 — in line with French and European targets. While it only accounts for less than 3% of total transport sector CO2 emissions, public transport will nonetheless play a vital role in this transformation. Consequently, we have stepped up our efforts by implementing action plans in all our subsidiaries. We are continuously investing in innovation to offer more sustainable powertrain systems. This includes electric solutions or retrofitted systems. We work in synergy with our partners and hold conversations with public transport authorities and suppliers to find the right solutions suited to the specific needs of each community. In California, for example, we operate the largest hydrogen fuel-powered bus fleet in the United States for Foothill Transit.

Modal shift is a crucial lever to decarbonise transport. How is Keolis supporting this transition?

Today, private cars still remain the preferred mode of transport. In a 2023 survey* conducted in France, 75% of respondents said they rely on their cars for daily travel, especially for commuting to work. So the challenge ahead is crystal clear: we have to convince more people to use public transport. To do this, I believe we need a ‘supply shock’ in the form of more and better transport services. This hinges on operational excellence and enhanced network quality and performance — and Keolis delivered on all these commitments last year. Our Unik initiative to make our networks more accessible is a good illustration, along with our Impact Safety programme, which focuses on developing ever safer services for both passengers and staff. In addition, to build awareness of both the need to make the modal shift a reality and the impact of people’s transport choices, we extended the conversation to the public through a series of conferences called Tribunals for the Mobility of Future Generations.

What are the Group’s aims for 2024?

Given the climate emergency, we must support our modal shift strategy with proactive measures to deliver the energy transition. With our ReKrute programme launched out in 2022 we will pursue our efforts to attract and retain the talent we need with better visibility on shifts and a focus on improving work-life balance. Our sector continues to face a shortage of drivers, so we’re doing everything we can to improve the appeal of these jobs by offering training and rewarding career pathways.

The power of teamwork and unrivalled expertise in mobility are our key strengths. With them, we’re ready to tackle the challenges ahead, and we’re looking forward to another successful year in 2024.

Our areas of differentiation

Three key differentiators have been defined to make Keolis unique

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: a frame of reference

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a frame of reference and a universal action plan to transform our societies by 2030. In 2020, Keolis identified eight SDGs to which the Group and its subsidiaries make a contribution on a daily basis:

Keolis, signatory of the UN Global Compact

Keolis has been a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact since 2004 and is committed to respecting and promoting its ten principles. In 2018, Keolis strengthened its commitment by joining the "GC Advanced" club, the highest reporting level of the initiative.