gogoBus is a Transportation-As-A-Service (TAAS) platform, acting as bridging the challenges of information asymmetry between travelers and bus-operator partners to promote shared mobility. What are the challenges the sector is facing, how the company is dealing with the disruptions?
Intercity bus travel is something that has remained dominated by unorganised bus operators for quite a long time. However, lately, with the changing preferences of the consumers, implementation of technologies and synergies being required for cost-effectiveness in the long-range bus running operation; several organised players are coming up. These organised bus fleet aggregators at times come with their own vehicle fleet, while at times they simply act like service aggregators by connecting the bus operators and the consumers.
gogoBus is a transport-as-a-service platform that has grabbed attention in the segment in the last few years. The company runs a premium long-range intercity bus service.
Autofintechs spoke to Amit Gupta, Co-founder of gogoBus, to learn about the current scenario in the sector, the challenges and the way forward.
Edited excerpts below.
Q. How much impact of the pandemic still remains in the intercity bus travel?
Covid has put a significant amount of pressure on intercity bus operators and industry as a whole, not only there was a drastic demand drop but it also remains at below par-level for an elongated period of 12-18 months. This leads to a heavy financial burden on operator-partners. Unfortunately, few operators-partners have also winded up their erstwhile multi-generation business.
Though on one side few operator-partners are pulling out of business, while on the other side lots of new-age operator-partners have started accepting the importance of technology and data to plan their routes to maximize their revenue. Along with that, operator-partners across India have become cognizant of the changing consumer requirements around safety and hygiene, wherein bus sanitization on every trip, vaccinated crew and thermal screening has become must-have criteria.
The impact of the pandemic on the entire bus mobility industry across India has been severe. And with Omicron fear looming around, it would be early to comment on how much impact remains. But one thing that is worth highlighting is that even after so much adversity, our operator-partners are confident of travel bouncing back in 2022. The reasons could be due to strong business fundamentals and increasing vaccination coverage. And we at gogoBus echo the sentiments of our operator-partners
Q. How are the bus aggregator platforms dealing with this crisis?
With the changing business scenarios, bus aggregator platforms like us, have also adapted and re-aligned our product to suit the market requirements. The reliance on data has increased significantly for the selection of optimum routes, reduction of the idle running of buses, and maximization of revenue at every trip level. Wherein, we at gogoBus are aggressively working with operator-partners to strengthen data-backed decision-making processes.
Q. Technology implementation in the fleet ownership model is making the business tougher for the unorganized bus operators. How do you see this notion?
I would rather say that it is the other way round. Technology implementation is actually facilitating the business of even unorganized operators. GPS-based location technology, real-time PnL visibility are a few of the most sought technology features by these operators.
Q. How do new-age OTA and bus aggregators help the ecosystem in reducing road traffic density?
Technology is the biggest enabler, which OTAs and aggregators are using extensively to not only create reliable mobility solutions but also contribute positively towards the environment with smart usage, thereby also unburdening the road infrastructure.
In India, we have less than 0.5-1 buses per 1000 people. While countries like Mexico, Brazil, China have more than 2 buses per 1000 population. What we need is a push to shift from a private vehicle mindset. The new age OTA and aggregators bring in world-class experience, as well as convenience at the disposal of travellers, thereby helping this shift tremendously. They are also using both demand and traffic flow data smartly to not only increase the occupancy of these buses efficiently and eventually contribute towards a reduction in road traffic.
Q. How do you see electric vehicles disrupting the fleet aggregators’ business model in the coming days? What’s gogoBus’s plan in this regard?
Indeed, electric vehicles are a better alternative to diesel and petrol vehicles. However, the usage of electric vehicles in public transit space is very limited to Governments only. Electric bus launches by private players would further enable the fleet aggregator’s model while promoting shared mobility and contributing positively to the environment.
At gogoBus, we are in touch with relevant stakeholders of the electric bus ecosystem and will be happy to share the development as it materializes.
Q. How do you see the future of bus aggregation platforms in India?
The future of bus aggregation is exciting. With more than 500 mn smartphone users and more than 700 mn internet users and the increased highway development focus of our government, bus mobility aggregation platforms are going to observe phenomenal growth in coming years.
Q. Tell us more about your plan for expansion?
Currently, we cater to the eastern, northern, and central parts of the country, and we are planning to expand very soon in western and southern India. Our expansion plan is to increase our reach across India, regardless of whether the location is a metro city or in a remote part of the country.
In the next 5 years, we want to build a connected and transparent mobility system across the country with 5000+ buses which also includes a 20% EV fleet on our platform to meet sustainable goals.
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