rBus Attempts to Reduce Mumbai Traffic by Creating Buspools

One of the major reasons for stress in a metropolitan area today is the traffic you have to brave every day while commuting to work.  Since working from home is not feasible for everyone everyday, public transport serves as the best bet. However, erratic schedules, absence of good connectivity, and prolonged waiting times are reasons preventing people from hopping on to public modes of transport.

rBus.in attempts to address these issues by designing a ‘personal’ public transport system in the form of bus pools. The bus service provides you a stress-free commute via a point-to-point bus with guaranteed seating, flexible timings, and your level of luxury. Basically these are chartered buses that are used to pick up commuters with common routes, running on a monthly ticketing model, the price of which varies on the daily distance travelled and the level of comfort required.

How does it work?
The first step is forming a bus-pool. By filling up a simple form, commuters can register themselves for their daily routes. rBus will find commuters with common routes. With this data, private bus fleet operators can be coordinated with to provide buses as per the requirements.

The system reserves a seat for each user by default at their pre-decided time. A password is sent to the user which serves as the ticket. Payments are aggregated as required and passed on to the bus providers. Some day, if you are running early or late, you can reserve a seat on a different bus.

All buses are equipped with GPS devices, and commuters on a particular route are alerted via SMS as the bus approaches their pick up point, or if is running late. This also ensures that you get a seat.

rBus.in is the brainchild of Siddharth Sharma, a web developer and entrepreneur focussed on helping to build the future on intra-city transportation. He has an MBA from IIM Bangalore and has previously worked in banking. He is currently the one-man-army behind the entire project.

Here is a short conversation with Siddharth:

How do you form a contract with buses? How did you manage to convince them?
Buses are available for charter in Mumbai without any fuss. Infact, charter bus providers are happy to interact with someone who wants five/ten buses everyday for the foreseeable future, instead of having to deal with ad-hoc bus rental and the consequent uncertainty. So far I have not had anyone who needed convincing.

Do you have some preset routes or you begin a route only when people ask for it?
The truth is that we are completely agnostic as to which routes we provide. In the end, we are simply connecting commuters with bus operators. If you look at big companies like Infosys, they have enough demand for buses internally that it makes sense for them to charter buses for their staff. We are making the same type of service available for much smaller companies and even individuals by aggregating the demand for stress-free commutes.

What if there are very few people on a route? For example, if you find just 15 or 20 people interested in a route, do you arrange a bus for them or just apologize?
It is not possible to provide services on a route with less than 100 people on it, however, it is our belief that it is possible to find 100 people from any point in Mumbai to any other point in Mumbai. Through the collaborative efforts of everyone that we can build a transport system that serves us, the commuters.

The name rBus.in has an uncanny resemblance to the very popular redBus.in. Comments please?
To my ear, rBus and redBus do not sound similar but I understand that people confuse the two. The word rBus is of course meant to sound like “our bus” which is what the idea is all about – we get together and we create our bus, which runs per our schedule and our routes.

Future plans?
I think the market for the product we are offering is virtually unlimited. Urban mobility is one of the burning issues of our times as we realise that not everyone can have a car. Now with just 3% of commutes being made by car, we have this situation where roads are jammed morning to night. It is quite clear that this situation is unsustainable. If you see the amount of money that is being spent on urban mobility, the sum is truly staggering. rBus intends to provide the de-facto commute medium in India within the next three years, and hopefully globally soon after.

Any other piece of information you’d like to share with our readers.
rBus is part commercial venture, part green venture and partly a labour of love. I am a huge fan of buses and I have no doubt that buses are going to play a huge part in the future of urban mobility. I would love to work together with like minded people and so if anyone reading this wants to be a part of rBus that would be awesome! And did I mention that we’re a bit short on cash? ;-)

Currently operational only in Mumbai, Sidhharth is open to providing the technology needed to extend this to other cities. Someone interested in bringing this to their city can get in touch with him. My twopence: they need to work on the website to make it more detailed and better looking. Facebook integration can be considered to spread the name, and also to form groups of friends/colleagues travelling together.

Bus pools are the way to go. Much more efficient than carpools, buses definitely reduce traffic congestion, stress in the traffic, and pollution. Plus, while travelling in a bus you can make use of the time to read, watch movies, relax, work. And if you use rBus, you need not worry about missing the bus or finding a seat. You save on money, time, stress, and go green. If you are in Mumbai, please do your bit bit by giving rBus.in a spin and let us know your experience as comments.

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