The evolution of intercity buses through deep technology
Despite the near-ubiquitous reach of the Internet and digital technology, most advances in ground transportation have been incremental until recently.
By Manish Rathi,
Despite the fact that intercity buses carry more than 30 million people every day, the industry has yet to witness significant technological innovations. Over the past decade, technology has changed the way people buy groceries and hire basic services like electricians and carpenters, but the intercity bus ride experience has essentially remained the same. OTAs have made internet booking easier over the past decade, but the actual travel experience has not improved. Despite the near-ubiquitous reach of the Internet and digital technology, most advances in ground transportation have been incremental until recently. However, this is about to change now with the recent emergence of technology-based platforms in the intercity bus segment.
Ground transportation for Bharat users is about to transform
In the coming years, the national highway network will expand to 2 lakh kilometers, accelerating segment growth as well as technology adoption. Connected vehicles, AI-powered technology, and IoT-based in-vehicle devices are bridging the technology gap. The sector is finally on the cusp of some transformative change. Even if these high-tech technologies become a not-so-distant reality, a quieter revolution like this is hitting closer to home and promises to change the face of ground transportation for Bharat users.
This transformation has taken the form of SmartBus, which makes intercity travel in India safer, more comfortable and more predictable than it has ever been. Until recently, the only way a bus could stay linked to the operator once it left its terminal was through the driver or, at best, a GPS gadget that tracked its path. SmartBus is a paradigm shift as it captures all trip and vehicle data in real time, processes it quickly and suggests appropriate corrective actions. This is achieved using a suite of applications, namely Operator Dashboard, Crew App, Consumer Platform, and IoT-based Fleet Analytics. Deep technology has enabled a more immersive networking experience that provides complete security, reliability, and timeliness. By offering Bharat users an alternative to the overcrowded railway, the SmartBus is revolutionizing intercity travel.
‘Connected Bus’ ecosystem
The aptly named SmartBus is smart not just because of the smart features it packs (of which there are plenty), but also because the entire ecosystem is built on a mobility operating system that makes it easy to collection, processing and delivery of data through a variety of technologies. applications, which are listed below.
- An operator’s dashboard provides real-time trip stats, vehicle performance, cost-cutting insights, and business insights.
- Similarly, the Crew app allows the Crew to respond to consumers based on their demographics, repeat behavior, and pre-populated requirements, as well as collect data relevant to their trip.
- The 24×7 command center dashboard enables real-time bus tracking and corrective action. This is supported by pre-installed on-board devices on the buses that power IoT-based fleet analytics.
- Consumer app allows consumers to make data-driven decisions (past bus performance, user reviews, bus ETAs) and manage their trip (pre-order food, live tracking, wake-up alarm) .
Smart apps lead to smart decisions.
- These advanced built-in applications, such as those listed, allow users to take data, process it, develop insights, and make smart decisions.
- Track the bus in real time using live CCTV footage, collect the temperature inside the bus, train the driver to regulate the ambient temperature, and ensure that the driver adheres to a predetermined schedule.
- Consumer engagement, review and feedback data is recorded and used for future personalized experience improvements and to offer tailored services.
- The technology can record every bump in the road while analyzing how road conditions affect speed and what physical components inside the bus help passengers have a more comfortable journey.
- The data collected may include the number of scheduled and unscheduled stops made by a bus, the latter receiving an alert; keep track of fuel consumption; monitor tire pressure; driver performance; and issuing fatigue alerts, among others.
- By continuously monitoring traffic flows, speeds and road conditions, the technology can provide fairly accurate ETA forecasts, optimize route planning and warn users in advance.
SmartBus is an integrated technological solution to enable safe, reliable and punctual journeys day after day.
Data-driven technology increases the operational efficiency of bus operators.
Years of data extracted from rail and bus passenger aggregators, route information and user information related to crowded volumes and train stress can all be used to inform route design in this segment. Data on consumer demand and seasonality are also useful for route planning and expansion, among other things. It also allows operators to maintain dynamic pricing systems. With this information, bus operators can reduce operating expenses and better manage their vehicles.
There’s reason to be optimistic about the future of intercity buses, given the abundance of enabling features and deep technological potential. The day when smart buses powered by deep technology will start making better decisions on their own is not far off. Therefore, using the bus will undoubtedly be a pleasant, comfortable and safe experience that will ensure consistency across the country.
(The author is CEO and co-founder of IntrCity. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)