There is potential in expanding shuttle bus service by making it more convenient using smartphone apps to aggregate rides. It is an open question if the approach will have an impact on pollution in large cities in India.
In the last few months, a host of startups have emerged that connect commuters to shuttle buses in the same way that “taxi aggregators” like Uber hook people up with independent drivers — and they are starting to show results. Using a business model developed in India, companies like Shuttl, Ola, Cityflo , Zipgo, and others are rapidly building networks of commuters in Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai, where they offer private shuttle bus operators the promise of less downtime and riders a comfortable trip to work for a nominal price.
“People do not take public transport right now because the service is really bad,” says Harish Tiwari, co-founder of one of the startups, Tranzo, which operates in Bangalore. “If an app-based aggregator can provide better service than what is there now, people are ready to use it.”
After initially showing little interest in the new app-driven bus service, the New Delhi government announced last week that it was backing the concept and called on companies with fleets of 50 buses or more to apply for an operating license. While the new shuttle bus services often just take passengers on two- to three-mile rides to subway stops, the government wants the services to start operating longer routes and carrying more passengers.