In India, to overcome the everyday hassle of travelling via public transport can seem like an insurmountable challenge. We all want an easy way out with less traffic if we want to travel within the city, and easy ticketing facilities which help us to plan our journey ahead. If you wish to avoid long queues and cut down on the waiting time, you can try Ridlr, an end-to-end public transport ticketing and commuting app that fulfils a commuter’s daily intra-city travel needs. Guardian 20 spoke to the co-founder and CEO of Ridlr, Brijraj Vaghani, about the user experience, the app’s real-time data use and its expansion.

Q. How is this app different from other online services like m-indicator or Zophop?

A. Along with providing real-time traffic information and public transport information, our digital-ticketing service solves the challenges of availability of exact change while buying tickets and waiting in long queues to recharge bus passes for commuters. What sets us apart is that it is a one-stop solution for information as well as digital transaction needs. We are pioneers of digitising public transport across the country. We will be live on Mumbai Metro shortly and this system is not available in New York or even China.

Q. How is the feedback in terms of user experience? What is your current user base in statistical terms?

A. We already have over 175,000 people and this is growing as we speak. Around 10% of total passholders have availed of Ridlr to recharge their passes which is a great number because of the total transactions taking place in India, only 5% are cashless. I think the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to user experience. I would like to believe that our product has made public transport easy and convenient.

Q. The online market for such services is very competitive. Is it easy to build your way into it?

A. Well, it is not an easy market to navigate. You need a set of skills to develop the technology, the product and the business. Ridlr is uniquely positioned as we have all the three. Our country does not have the infrastructure in place to build user-friendly apps and we had to work really hard just to put that in place before developing our information and ticketing platform. Ridlr has managed to digitise information and make it possible for commuters to not just look up information but also to book cashless tickets on mobile platforms.

Q. Are you operational pan-India or is it just Mumbai-centric for now? How do you plan to expand?

A. We have a pan-India presence across 25 cities now. The traffic and transport information is live across 20 cities. Mobile ticketing is available in Mumbai where we have a strong foothold. We have information services in Chennai, Bangalore, Bellary, Hyderabad, and Vijayawada for now in the south. We are in the process of expanding to other metro cities and some big state transport organisations as we speak.

Q.  Are you targeting international users as well?

A. Ridlr as a product is a plug-and-play model and hence not restricted by geographical barriers. The possibilities are endless for us and we have already seen interest from international players.

Q.  What are the technical difficulties in providing real-time data in our country, and how do you overcome these?

A. Real-time Data and mobile ticketing platform require physical and digital infrastructure in place. In India there are no sensors, public camera feeds which one can use to measure traffic on roads. No standard APIs and protocols for transit agencies to share data with users in digital form. In developed nations the government provides this data to the app developers to enable this. Here, Ridlr had to look at alternate and unconventional sources of data, employ crowdsourcing effectively to provide accurate traffic information as we don’t have access to information from the government for security reasons. Similarly for public transport, most developed countries have standard processes and protocols using which app developers can aggregate data about routes, timetables and so on methodically. Not only do agencies in India not have any process or protocols, many of the smaller ones did not have it in any digital format. We had to digitise it for them using tools we built. We overcame this by building tools which transit agencies could use to maintain their data.

Q.  What’s your revenue generation model?

A. We are generating revenues from our transacting base but it is a bit too early to talk about revenues at this point in our journey. We have multiple models with which we generate revenue—fee per transaction from the agency, convenience or subscription fees from the customer as well as revenue from deploying turnkey ticketing solutions for agencies.

Q.  What is the app’s limitation, if any?

A. We are very customer-focused and take their feedback very seriously to constantly improve their experience. Our aim is to bring an Uber-like experience to public transport where you look up information and book your travel on our platform.

Q.  Is it available for both Android and iOS platforms?

A. All the functions of Ridlr app are available on Android. At present, there are limited functions available on iOS platform as it is newly launched, but soon all the functions will available.

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