While we’ve been reporting and writing about how people would prefer mobility solutions that offer personal space like cars or motorcycles and how there was a boom expected in the market after the lifting of the lockdown. Au contraire, FADA reported this month that sales of two-wheelers have actually slipped down from before the pandemic broke owing to financial woes and the overall unpredictability with job security. We looked towards public transport to understand if it was buses that had caught on instead. Kapil Raizada, co-founder, IntrCity RailYatri tells us that bus travel is seeing double the traffic now in comparison to February 2020. We find out more.
IntrCity Smartbus covers around 630+ routes across the country and has over 1 lakh users per month. The company boasts the widest network of India’s branded intercity bus fleets, connecting cities like Amritsar to Ahmedabad, Varanasi to Vijayawada, and Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The bus routes will be expanded to the East towards the end of this year, primarily North East.
IntrCity restarted operation in July after the lockdown and within 30 days, traffic was back – not similar to before the lockdown but the company witnessed strong demand, says Raizada.
Today, IntrCity is at double the volume than what it was last February. In February 2020, the company received 50-60 thousand bookings and now it stands at 1 lakh.
IntrCity SmartBus expects further growth of 30-40 percent in passenger bookings as currently, the student traffic has not come back and most people are travelling for work-related, pilgrimage or functional reasons, Raizada explains, adding that leisure travel is not back in full strength.
He further underlines that people have now become more quality conscious during the pandemic and are more careful about services offered and hence, organised players are slated to gain business in the industry, assisted by an increase in online methods of bookings – both in buses and trains.
The company does not recognise itself as a luxury brand and has prices similar to other intercity bus operators. It does not include Bharatbenz or Ashok Leyland buses with television screens and leather upholstery.
“Our focus is on upper-middle-class and the middle class, offering safe, reliable and on time way of travel.”
IoT-enabled – MoTech
IntrCity empowers bus operators with providing an Internet-enabled platform for booking transactions, tracking of buses and register consumer complaints as well.
All buses are fitted with IoT devices to document start and finish times, speeds, complaints, and feedback.
IntrCity is waiting for the industry to come up with more plausible options in electric buses as currently, these are not ready for covering long distances. “Electric vehicle operations will be a part of our fleet once the mechanism is available.”
Long-term benefits of electric buses would include more affordability and better since EVs have no vibrations and are silent. At the moment, IntrCity SmartBus’ shortest run is 250 km and the longest is 700-800 km. The initial routes for electric buses will be about 400 km. “We should cover half our routes with the electric fleet eventually.”
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