A decade or so ago just the thought of booking a bus ticket must have dampened your enthusiasm to travel. The long queues, punishing temperatures, running from one travel agent to another and not to mention the uncertainty on a ticket confirmation, all of these did create a stressful experience. In India, the bus is perhaps the only way to reach certain parts of the country which are not accessible by a flight or a train. Every travel plan will include a travel by road in some form or the other. In certain cases bus is the only option to reach the destinations. As traveler, you are rightly concerned about having a confirmed ticket to your destination. Fret not, the ticket booking for the road has just become easier!
Image Source: Scott Schwartz/flickr.com
How it started: August of 2006 saw the advent of the first online ticket booking for bus travel in the form of RedBus.com. It wasn’t an easy journey for the RedBus founders as they struggled to bring the private travel operators on board a single platform. But after about a year of efforts, results began to appear as one by one, the private travel operators conceded in the anticipation of a hassle free ticket booking and better business, which they eventually attained. Soon after, a few air ticket and trip booking sites like MakeMyTrip.com, ClearTrip.com followed suit by opening up the booking for buses.
AbhiBus.com, a late entrant into this segment began with a different story altogether. Started in 2007, AbhiBus.com came in as a technology provider for State and Private Transport players. It also provided technological support to RedBus.com and earned revenues on a commission basis. It was only in the year 2013, sensing the opportunity for more players in the online ticket sales segment that, AbhiBus.com moved into selling tickets. Currently, it is fast promoting its brand and aggressively competing with the likes of RedBus.com for the market share.
What has this done for the traveler and the industry over the last 7-8 years?
Benefits to Customers: For starters, it has changed the way ticket booking was done. You no longer find queues at a travel agent’s office. There is hardly any cash transaction taking place before alighting the bus all the customer needs to do is arrive on time at the scheduled pick up point. There is a huge save on time, efforts and even money for the customers.
Benefits to Operators: As part of the technological revolution the travel agents and private operators were assisted with innovative tour management software and ticket booking software that helped them fill up the erstwhile empty seats even more quickly. Thanks to the technology, these private operators could provide live status to customers on the number of vacant seats even an hour before travel ensuring that the emergency travel requirements of customers are fulfilled.
Ticket Booking Dynamics: The interface with these online platforms has become better due to the booking engine software which aids in a very hassle free ticket booking experience. The engine software makes it easy to navigate and select the desired destination, along with date and time of travel. The internal reservation system software allows for the customer to choose from the various private tour operators who have buses moving from and to various desired destinations.
Current Situation: The bus transport in India constitutes both the state and private owned transportation, with the state owned being the larger player. The road transportation sector is not totally organized and yet is the principal mode of travel due to its lower fares and deeper connect with certain parts of India. The advent of online ticketing has brought some change in terms of aligning several private operators onto a common booking platform. The bus transportation system still needs a major overhaul in terms of its operations to cater to the growing demand of travel in India.
The ticket booking sites such as RedBus, MakeMyTrip, AbhiBus, and YatraGenie have wrought a new path for road transportation in India. The governments, both at the centre and state levels, are taking initiatives to boost this sector in order to tap the immense tourism and travel potential. While on one hand these initiatives will cater to the growing demand, on the other they will add to the revenues of the respective governments.
Way Forward: To successfully cater to the growing travel demand, this sector needs the participation and collaboration of both the state and the private owned transportations. The image of the state owned buses need to change from uo;polluting, noisy, and unreliable” to "clean, comfortable and reliable”. The image of the private owned buses needs a revamp from being uo;overpriced, risky and dangerous” to "affordable and safe”.
When it comes to the sector, we have a long way to go on in comparison with those in the West or Europe. Online bus booking has just about initiated the change and we will hopefully see a better bus transportation system going forward.