This Bus Operator Promises Punctual And World-Class Services
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Indian buses everyday carry more than 70 million people in 170,000 buses. These figures reaffirm that Indians still rely on bus transport despite the presence of train and flight services. While it is true that bus transport is pocket friendly—thus supporting the lowest in the income chain—late arrival, uncomfortable seats, absent or unhygienic toilets are among few of the shortcomings that have averted the interests of middle and upper middle-class people.
To address these issues, Yolobus—an inter-city bus travel startup—was founded by Shailesh Gupta along with Danish Chopra and Mukul Shah in September 2019.
In an interview with Entrepreneur India, Gupta talks about his startup, how the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted it and what are the future plans.
Bad Trip Turned Into Inspiration
Gupta, a serial entrepreneur, founded Yolobus after having a successful stint with five to six startups. Co-working space and payment wallet were few of the startup ideas that Gupta materialized before entering into the transport sector. “We wanted to create a brand which is 10 times better than the others,” said Gupta.
According to Gupta, one of the biggest challenges that bus passengers face is the lack of punctuality. “I remember once I took a bus from Bengaluru to Chennai to meet an IIT-Madras professor. The meeting was supposed to take place at 9 am, but the bus reached in the afternoon. The entire trip was a waste,” added Gupta.
This along with other bad trips inspired Gupta to take a deep dive in this sector and come up with a solution, Yolobus.
Gupta from the beginning knew what would attract passengers and bring back the young generation to like bus transports. “We are a customer-first brand. We want to provide a world-class service that a passenger can expect in the 21st century while travelling in any mode of transportation,” Gupta said.
All the buses have washrooms, hi-speed WiFi connections, food and beverages and device charging points, among others.
Yolobus currently has 30 buses under their fleets and plans to increase the number in the post COVID era.
Currently, Yolobus services are available in 10-12 locations which comprises Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai in south, Delhi, Manali and Varanasi, among others, in north India. The Gurugram-based startup has recently entered in the northeast and connects cities such as Guwahati, Silchar and Tinsukia, among others.
Gupta believes the startup will soon become a major brand in the northeastern states as there is a lack of service providers.
The company partners with existing bus operators and then standardized them as per Yolobus standards
The ongoing pandemic and stringent lockdown have forced bus operators to lift their feet off the accelerator. “This pandemic was a breathing period for us to take some pause and think about how we want to build the business and in what way we can make it a sustainable one,” said Gupta.
The lockdown gave the founders the time to rethink the way they want to continue the operations once the lockdown is lifted.
With the partial lifting of the lockdown, Yolobus has seen a 40 to 50 per cent rise in the customer bookings in certain routes.
Social distancing norms are strictly practised in the buses. Buses are sanitized after every trip. Passengers are advised to wear masks inside the bus. Along with sanitizers, the bus operators will also provide masks and PPE kit if asked by any passengers. Before onboarding, passengers go through a disinfectant spraying tunnel.
The company raised a $3.3 million Series A funding at the start of June to invest in technology, customer and crew safety and sanitization as well as expansion plans across geographies.