If you’ve ever lived in, or visited India, you would attest to the fact that travel as well as the daily rush hour commute can be a nightmare.
The city of Mumbai for example, has a population of about 23 million. It is estimated that at least 12 million commute to work everyday. About 18,00,000 vehicles run on the roads everyday of which public transport is just 9.2% of total vehicular traffic.
Apart from average road quality, there are other reasons why traffic jams occur. Public transport is not available in many cities, and even where available, schedules and transport information is hard to access for the public. Moreover, addresses in India are not geo-referenced. So you cant really lookup an address on google maps and work out how to get somewhere.
Despite these limitations, some startups are looking at solving the problem of unreliable public transport and traffic congestion:
360Navigator promotes the use of public transport in Mumbai, by providing accurate informatiom on train and bus schedules, taxi and rickshaw fares and routes. This is very handy because Google transit does not work in India (for the reasons stated above). To access this service, you would dial +91-9595-360-360 and explain to the operator where you are, and where you would like to go.
Sandeep, co-founder of 360Navigator says they regularly receive calls from people who are lost or need directions to someplace in a hurry. They also spend a lot of effort in ensuring they get the most up-to-date data from local bus and train stations, governing authorities and also daily traffic updates from local FM radio stations.
2. Cycle Chalao
Cycle Chalao is India’s first bicycle sharing program and promotes the use of bicycles as an alternative to taxi’s and auto-rickshaws. So far, urban planning authorities have not seriously considered bicycles as an alternative to reduce traffic on the roads, but the global trend is catching on even in India.
After a successful pilot, Cycle Chalao has begun to collaborate with local government bodies to help develop and manage bicycle sharing hubs in Indian cities, while the government commits to developing bicycle lanes and routes.
3. AyAuto and Rickshawale
AyAuto and Rickshawale are Pune and Mumbai based startups that provide a 24/7 dial-a-rickshaw service. Both startups employ a fleet of GPS tracked rickshaw’s available at your doorstep via a local phone call. This means there is no need to wait for a rickshaw late at night or haggle over ‘night charges’. Drivers go through formal training and consequently provide a better level of service. For a small service fee, these startups are reducing the barriers to choosing a rickshaw over driving.
While these startups are still in their infancy, one get’s the feeling that they’re passionate about solving the problem of public transport. As services mature, it would be exciting to see collaborations taking place between the different players to make travel in India more reliable.