How Chalo redefines bus travel in India using location technology
People living in India rely on mass transit to get around. But for those that live outside the 3 major Indian cities, mass transit options are limited to buses, which are inefficient.
Buses are the most important form of public transport in India. While large cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru have buses, metros, and trains, in all other cities, buses are the predominant form of public transport.
With millions of people using Indian public transport daily, inefficient bus operations lead to people choosing other modes of transport, which in turn means increased traffic congestion, high levels of air pollution, inflated stress levels, and much longer travel times for the whole city. In effect, creating a poor quality of life.
Navigation tools such as maps with live traffic information are available to help private vehicle owners, but apps and tools to help those who relied on public transport were lacking. It was this problem that inspired Indian transport technology company Chalo to create an app to improve the rider experience and streamline the country’s bus operations.
Based in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, Chalo is a key transport technology company in India, building and deploying technology to track thousands of buses. As its user base grew, Chalo realized that TomTom had the location data it needed to improve the bus travel experience and increase bus ridership, not just across the major metros but also for smaller Indian cities and towns.
How Chalo improved the public transit riding experience in India
The challenge was clear - inefficient bus operations meant lower bus ridership and a lack of estimated time of arrival (ETA) visibility led to dissatisfied passengers. So Chalo launched an app which allowed passengers to live-track buses and see the actual arrival time of their ride. As a result, riders can head to their bus stop just a few minutes before their bus arrives, rather than waiting 15-20 minutes, as they did earlier.
The app also improved the bus ticketing process. Previously riders needed to visit a pass center, wait in line for an hour, and submit documentation just to buy a bus pass. This needed to be repeated monthly to renew their pass. Now, riders can buy their bus ticket or a monthly bus pass directly on the Chalo app. The app also includes a live passenger indicator feature, allowing riders to see how crowded their bus is in real-time before deciding which bus to take.
For bus operators, Chalo has built out an entire technology platform to help run better operations, making bus services more reliable and cost effective. Through this system, operators have total control and transparency of their bus operations.
Selecting the best location data provider
To find the best location technology provider for its needs, Chalo conducted an extensive evaluation process. The company checked for data accuracy, coverage, and route efficiency. The company found that TomTom had high-quality POI data, not just across the metros but also for smaller Indian cities and towns.
Since integrating TomTom’s location data into its app, Chalo has found the TomTom team to be transparent and superb in problem solving and helping to ensure cost efficiency.
Vinayak Bhavnani, Co-founder and CTO at Chalo, says, “TomTom has been a true partner for us, technically, commercially, and in customer support.” Bhavnani added, “Their road coverage throughout India is exceptional, they adapted commercial terms to meet our needs, and provide steady access to their product experts.”
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What lies ahead?
Chalo today operates in 31 cities throughout India and live-tracks 15,000 buses. The company shares a common passion for solving the challenges of the daily commute, all the while making the environment cleaner and safer. Because its app has improved the riding experience, bus ridership continues to grow.
“We continue to focus on the end-to-end connected experience for people as they travel. Chalo’s tech stack has been built from day-one to be globally relevant. There are several cities around the world that are grappling with the same problems we are solving here in India, and these could be an interesting next step for us,” says Vinayak Bhavnani, Co-founder and CTO at Chalo.
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