Bengaluru, October 16, 2020.
redBus, India’s largest online bus ticketing platform, recorded over 3 lakh seat reservations across the country over the 2nd October long weekend, in the latest sign of the industry returning to normalcy. States such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are currently showing high demand for bus travel, surpassing pre-lockdown levels, partly due to limited availability of trains on key routes, making buses the most preferred means of travel.
Over the long weekend, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and West Bengal recorded maximum demand for travel in the country, while the top destinations preferred by the passengers were Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
The top 5 routes in the country for which redBus is witnessing significant bookings at present are, Bengaluru – Hyderabad, Delhi – Chandigarh, Hyderabad – Vijayawada, Asansol – Kolkata and Gorakhpur-Delhi.
Safety of passengers and the bus crew continues to be the top priority for redBus and the platform had earlier launched its Safety+ program, a certification for its partner bus operators who meet the highest standards of excellence in safety and sanitization. Safety+ certified operators follow strict safety protocols to address the concerns around safety due to COVID-19.
The redBus ticketing platform indicates bus operators with this self-certification, with a Safety+ tag next to the bus listing, enabling passengers to opt for such operators or buses.
While Safety+ ensures that the partner bus operators enforce a slew of strict safety measures to keep the passengers safe, redBus has also listed out a set of passenger guidelines encouraging them to travel responsibly for a safe journey.
A behavioral shift that has been evident post-COVID is the preference for online bus booking going up. This has gained traction lately due to the safety and convenience aspects associated with it, compared to offline modes of ticket purchase. redBus has seen a rise in first-time customers, with the percentage of the transactions undertaken by new customers nearly doubling from 11% (Pre-COVID) to 21% (Post-COVID).
Another interesting trend being witnessed is the willingness among people in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns to travel, resulting in them contributing around 67% of the current bookings, as they look to return back to their workplaces (this was 56% earlier in the pre-COVID period).
Some of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with high demand for bus travel at present are Jaipur, Gorakhpur, Indore, Visakhapatnam, Kalaburagi, Rajkot, Malda and Guwahati.
Speaking on the upbeat near-term outlook for the industry, Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus, said, “The current phase is an important inflection point with a steady rise in demand for bus travel across the country, brought about by the gradual resumption of activities across all spheres, making travel a necessity. We expect this trend to continue with increase in economic activity, further relaxation in locked down activities, the upcoming festive season and also when colleges/universities reopen. On many routes, we have also seen a substitution of demand moving from Trains to Buses.”