'Access to seamless tech-system, limited digitisation and current policy environment are a few challenges that fleet operators in India are facing today.'
India is a bus country, where more than 50% Indians travel by bus for a plethora of reasons. Yet, on the other hand, Indian bus space is the most neglected part of our mobility system. The way our bus ecosystem works is still very traditional, which is ripe for technology disruption. With more than 500 million smartphone users; more than 700 million internet users and increased digitization bus mobility in India is on the verge of a new revolution and is expected to see phenomenal growth in this space in the next decade to come. In an exclusive conversation with the Financial Express Online Amit Gupta, Co-Founder of gogoBus talks about the role of technology, trends in the TAAS sector and more. Excerpts:
Explain briefly about gogoBus and how your technology is changing the TAAS sector?
gogoBus is a TAAS platform for intercity bus mobility, focusing on democratizing access of end-to-end technology to fleet owners while connecting consumers across India.From the very initial days of gogoBus, we were clear that the integration of technology is the only thing that can set intercity bus mobility in India apart and enable our traditional ecosystem to be at par with global standards. Transportation as a Service (TAAS) could be the possible answer to uplift the entire industry and we have started taking baby steps in that direction.
How is this different from the other bus services?
gogoBus platform is built on a smart and intelligent route engine, which suggests the best route based on demographics, alternate connectivity options and frequency.
We believe in co-opetition and with our unique platform approach, we are working with each and every stakeholder to solve the problem of information asymmetry at scale. So, as the new age players increase, it is better for the bus mobility industry as a whole. This would eventually lead to a better consumer experience.
Please tell us some trends you have observed in the booking pattern after the pandemic?
Interestingly, COVID somehow helped us in a positive way to re-align our product-first Go-To-Market strategy while building connectivity for Bharat. We started in January 2020 and have experienced running our buses with 100% occupancy in less than 3 months, just when COVID stuck.
But, post lock-down relaxation, we commenced our operations in eastern parts of the country. We were growing at a healthy pace on a month-on-month basis, and then the second wave caused a temporary halt in our services again.
Since we resumed our services in July 2021, we have been observing growth of around 100% on a month-on-month basis and with this pace we are targeting to reach 100+ cities in the next 3-5 months.
How is the TAAS sector evolving in your view?
TAAS (aka MaaS – Mobility as a Service) is a plug and play business model connecting mobility operators and commuters based on their transportation needs, via a robust technological ecosystem. And Covid has rather been a net beneficiary for a faster adoption of tech-platforms like gogoBus in the intercity bus mobility market.
Also, during both COVID-19 lock-down, we observed two major situations –
Consumer Trust – How to gain consumer trust with looming concern around visibility of safety measures adopted?
Solution built – Visibility of body temperature of all-co-passengers on gogoBus consumer app
Operator’s confidence – How to empower operator partners with right data about the potential demand on every route level?
Solution built – Data-based model that provides real insights to operator-partners and help them maximise their revenue at every trip level.
Educating the less tech savvy partner’s of gogoBus became a priority for us, because we knew that they must gain the confidence in the system, which in return would help establish consumer trust. People were still in a state of fear and confusion and with tech solutions, we were able to build a transparent source of information which was freely available for the consumption of all our stakeholders.
Please tell us about your plan for expansion?
In the next 5 years, we want to have a connected and transparent system across the country. 5000+ buses with 20% EV fleet on our platform is our sustainable goal. Bus mobility needs to undergo a whole new facelift in India and that is exactly what we plan to do.
How does your technology help to make this unorganised sector more organised?
Data is new age fuel, which everyone understands and interestingly COVID lockdown has motivated bus operators even in Tier 2 & Tier 3 market, to harness the potential of data by selecting right route, right departure time slots to maximise every bus-trip earnings.
We are super excited to share that our real-time insights from our in-house data model helps our bus operator-partners minimise their time to reach break-even occupancy.
Please tell us about your most busy routes and some new routes you are exploring to operate.
Our operator-partners operate routes and we at gogoBus enable them with our TAAS platform and omni-channel sales distribution channels to maximise their revenue and minimise cost-leakages.
What are some challenges you see in bus operations and any future plan?
Access to seamless tech-system, limited digitisation and current policy environment are a few challenges that fleet operators in India are facing today.