Optibus expands into ferries with HADAG in Germany

Abigail Levner

Abigail Levner

October 16, 2023

To improve public transportation on a citywide scale, Optibus is expanding its technology beyond the bus sector into ferry operations.

Optibus today announced its expansion beyond the bus sector into ferry operations. The announcement comes with the signing of HADAG, the ferry operator for the city of Hamburg, Germany, for Optibus' Planning, Scheduling, Rostering, and Operations software solutions.

Since its founding in 2014, Optibus has dedicated itself to innovating public transportation. Its robust global team of transportation and technology experts develops and creates access to the most advanced new technologies that streamline the planning and operation of sustainable, efficient services. 

A member of Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (hvv), Hamburg’s public transportation network, HADAG has been ferrying passengers up and down the River Elbe since 1888.


Until now, Optibus has focused on fine-tuning its software to meet the needs of fixed-route bus networks, which are at the core of almost every public transportation network around the world. Demand for Optibus’ software and innovation within the bus sector has seen Optibus hit a series of major milestones. In 2022, Optibus became the first unicorn start-up dedicated to public transportation and, last month, usage of Optibus’ software grew to 4,000 cities across 35 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.

Buses are only one way of transporting passengers from A to B. In many of the cities where Optibus’ software is used, the transportation network includes multiple modes of mobility.

In its mission to improve public transportation on a citywide scale, Optibus is now expanding its technology beyond the bus sector. Starting with ferry operators.

HADAG will use Optibus’ software to optimize the planning and operations for their eight-route ferry network.


Optibus’ expansion from the roads to the seas will first see the company’s software optimize ferry travel in Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany. There, HADAG, the city’s publicly-owned ferry operator and a subsidiary of Hamburger Hochbahn, will implement Optibus’ entire end-to-end system, consisting of Planning, Scheduling, Rostering, and Operations products, across their departments to digitize their manual and paper-based workflows and bring the benefits and usability of cloud-native technology to their operation. 

HADAG is a key and historic player in Hamburg’s passenger transportation network. Established in 1888, its network spans 330,000 nautical miles of the River Elbe (the equivalent of circling the world eleven times) and operates rain or shine, 365 days a year. Its fleet comprises 26 vessels that can transport anywhere between 114 and 250 passengers at a time, and - just as in the bus sector - is being upgraded to replace diesel-electric models with electric hybrids to become a zero-emissions fleet.   

HADAG uses Optibus Planning to digitally recreate its entire transport network and discover ways to optimize route efficiency. Here, you can see several of HADAG’s ferry routes on the River Elbe just west of Hamburg’s city center. The brown Route 75 between Landungsbrücken (Brücke 2) and Steinwerder is highlighted, with stops shown in the left toolbar. 


In addition to enhancing its fleet, HADAG is investing in its planning and operational infrastructure. Using Optibus’ software, the ferry operator will introduce artificial intelligence, optimization algorithms, and cloud technology to its workflows, making planning and operations smoother and more data-driven. The software’s user-friendly interface makes these advanced tools easy for anyone to master, resulting in quick and smooth user onboarding that minimizes disruption on other parts of the operation. This was a key consideration for HADAG, as their schedulers and dispatchers have a diverse workload that also includes operating ships, so the transition to a new planning software needed to be fast and seamless.

With this modernized planning and operations infrastructure, HADAG has set the foundation for creating more efficient services for the more than 10 million passengers they transport each year.

This innovation initiative will also result in improved work commutes for local employees of Airbus, which contracts HADAG to provide ferry shuttles for its Hamburg staff to and from its site in Finkenwerder. Airbus’ campus is a major employment and economic hub for the city and one of Europe’s most important aviation centers.

HADAG’s route 62, Landungsbrücken Finkenwerder, one of their key lines, recreated in Optibus Planning. Using satellite imagery and street-level data, planners can verify and adjust stop locations, and Optibus’ system will create an optimal route passing through it.


Because HADAG is part of Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (hvv - the Hamburg Public Transport Association), increased efficiencies within HADAG’s ferry network will also bring benefits to the city’s wider mobility network, which consists of rapid-transit trains, local trains, and - of course - buses. Established in 1965 as the world’s first integrated public transportation network, just one ticket is needed to travel across the entire network. 

“Transporting our passengers safely and quickly is our main priority. The technologies that Optibus introduces to our team are the start of a smarter, world-class ferry network for the city of Hamburg. We are excited to work with Optibus to modernize our planning and operations infrastructure,” said Wolfgang Mularzyk, Project Leader Digitalisation at HADAG.

“Optibus’ mission is to bring innovation to public transportation, and we want to advance this mission wherever and however people move from A to B. We look forward to partnering with HADAG to help them achieve their operational goals and to watch as digitalization brings a new level of service quality to passengers in Hamburg,” said Amos Haggiag, CEO and co-founder of Optibus. 

"A good plan is always the basis of a successful project. With Optibus, available resources and funds can be allocated and applied in the best way possible, enabling us to improve public transport for the benefit of passengers, the environment, driving staff, and HADAG," said Benedikt Lahme, Regional Director, DACH, at Optibus.

If you are attending the UITP Global Summit in Hamburg in 2025 and 2027, make sure to catch a ride with HADAG and Optibus on the River Elbe!


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Topics: Announcements, Transportation, Blog, Public Transportation