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Tech-Driven Indian Mobility Startups: The Need Of The Hour

The urban Indian is a discerning customer, who places a premium on their time, comfort, seamlessness, convenience and social consciousness.

The growth of cities over time shows us the power of network effects. As cities grew in number and size, more people flocked to them in search of work opportunities and a better lifestyle. Alexandria was the 1st major city in history, with over 1 million people just over 2000 years ago. Today, 60% of the global population resides in cities. Our cities are where human civilization flourishes. Be it jobs, comfortable living, food, culture, or art, cities see the best of it all. And all this comes with certain costs and collateral inconveniences. One of these is the hassle of moving around in the city.

Transportation, for the majority, has historically been a mandate of public enterprise. Train and bus systems have been the preferred modes of commute (public transit serves 70% of Mumbai’s commuter population). But as we have grown wealthier, more people have turned to their personal cars. In making this choice, you choose the comfort of your own seat and greater control over your commute, over the affordability of public transit. As this trend continued, our road space started filling up — making it unviable for car owners and others alike.

Due to the growing traffic, driving in the city is now more taxing than ever. Taking my car to work is not a desired commute, but my least uncomfortable choice. This creates a need for a solution that serves both the individual and the city. As we are witnessing across different sectors in India, in mobility as well, there is a demand for premium commute experiences objectively better than the current options (aka, a personal car). The urban Indian is a discerning customer, who places a premium on their time, comfort, seamlessness, convenience and social consciousness. And their commute option needs to reflect that as well.

The solution is simple really — a chauffeured ride, from home to work. Reliable, comfortable, flexible and seamless. Something that can be booked with an app, tracked, rescheduled or cancelled as per one’s convenience. Bringing such an experience requires an interesting combination of a few things.

A great ride

Buses of yesterday don’t meet the car owner’s expectations anymore. What is needed is a bus tailored to the needs of the urban Indian. This includes, but is not limited to, a more powerful engine to ensure a smooth ride, reclining seats for maximum comfort, larger windows for more light, and ample leg room. Beyond this, this bus also needs to prioritize driver comfort and the aesthetics.

Customer service

Another vestige of urban mobility is the sheer disregard for customers. Be it rickshaw rides or the new-age cab hailing services, the standards for customer service are low. Reliability, punctuality, well-cleaned rides, professional drivers, prompt customer service are now table stakes, and unfortunately there are few commute options that meet even these criteria. This has been amplified in the wake of the pandemic, where hygiene has become a top priority.

Innovative, data-oriented route design

A 100%-assured-seats offering in a bus that need not stop once it onboards 25 passengers can have a sweeping implication on route design systems. Needing just 500+ passengers to form a route means the bus runs limited stops, and is customized to the customers’ home and office locations. This helps improve accessibility.

A seamless app experience

The app plays the most critical role in redefining bus travel. With an app, one can easily control their entire commute experience. They can use it to find the closest stop combinations, select a time of convenience and the precise seat to their liking. Most customers opt for the subscription to get rid of booking rides daily. Someone else may use it to track the bus — and if they change their plans, it can be rescheduled or even cancelled in one click.

Most importantly, a good daily commute is defined by how passively one goes through it. A person travelling everyday would expect it to be a seamless routine. A bus service like this serves an individual customer’s desire for an objectively better commute option. This makes it financially sustainable, which is key to driving long-term and permanent change. Along with public investments to enhance the urban mobility infrastructure, there is a need and an opportunity for private investments towards building the mobility solutions of tomorrow — and buses are a proven mode to use in this journey.

Source: Business World

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