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Bus travellers expect more comfort, hygiene and safety

About 79% of intercity bus travellers complain about punctuality, cleanliness/hygiene, provision of food and beverages: NueGo-Kantar study

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Comfort, hygiene and safety are top considerations for intercity bus travellers; safety is most important to passengers in south India, and comfort is more important to those in the north and the west. Also, travel by buses for leisure is higher in the north (70%), compared to the west (56%) and the south (55%).

These are the findings of an interview-based study done by NueGo (electric coach brand of GreenCell Mobility) in partnership with Kantar, the insights and consulting company, which will be released later this week.

The study covered over 2,800 respondents across 10 cities.“The study was aimed at understanding the needs of the Indian intercity traveller and has revealed that 79% of intercity travellers feel there is a lack of standardisation in different aspects of bus travel like punctuality, cleanliness/hygiene, provision of food and beverages,” a NueGo spokesperson told FE.

The findings are more or less similar to the Passenger Satisfaction Survey exercise conducted by the Indian Railways a decade ago, which listed the top deficiencies of the railways as cleanliness of toilets, unauthorised vendors and passengers, cleanliness of platforms and the late running of trains.

The NueGo-Kantar study included multiple bus traveller segments: premium AC buses, affordable AC buses and non-AC buses, using both qualitative and quantitative research. A qualitative research survey was also conducted among intercity bus travel stakeholders like private bus operators, offline ticketing agents and online aggregators. Majority of the intercity bus travellers were found to be working males with an average age of 35 years.

The study has found that leisure is the top reason for travel (58%) for travellers across the country, with preference given to travelling with family or friends. Zone-wise data shows that travel for leisure is higher in the north (70%), compared to the west (56%) and the south (55%).

Also, when choosing a mode of transport, comfort, hygiene and safety are the top considerations for passengers, along with cleanliness.Amongst women, however, the hierarchy of factors influencing the choice of mode of travel is different. Safety is the top consideration amongst women, followed by cleanliness.According to NueGo, India has over 360,000 intercity buses, of which only 50,000 are AC buses.

The AC bus segment is divided into premium (15,000 buses) and affordable (35,000).Almost all electric buses fall under the premium AC segment, and 77% respondents said they are willing to pay a premium for these buses.“There is a clear demand for a seamless, consistent and elevated consumer experience in all facets of travel,” said Anand Parameswaran, executive director, Insights Division, Kantar.

“Consumers are also becoming socially-conscious and willing to opt for electric buses for a sustainable future.”There is a lot of scope to improve with respect to service offerings. Service aspects related to operations like punctuality, cleanliness, midpoint halts, food and beverages were stated to be most important by travellers when choosing a particular bus operator for intercity travel.

The expectations and complaints of travellers are similar across public transportation. According to the Indian Express, an exercise recently initiated by the Capacity Building Commission and rolled out across various zones by the Indian Railways had identified 12 friction points that can spoil the travel experience of customers; and four level of employees—the traveling ticket examiner, the booking clerk for passengers, the booking clerk for freight consignments, and the stationmaster in smaller stations—who potentially make or mar the impression the customers carry back home.

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