Today when air and rail tickets can easily be booked at the click of a button, there is still a large section of population spread across rural India, which is deprived of such convenience. They are largely dependent on road transport, where online ticketing is yet to make inroads. However, with IT spreading its wings, these people will also get the chance to make their trips better, comfortable and time saving. Once the innovative concept of on-line ticket booking for bus services catches on, passengers will be better served.

With this innovative service passengers will be able to book their tickets from the comfort of home, office, cyber cafe and even through SMS.

redBus.in, a web portal based in Bangalore has launched the online bus-booking service across major cities of India. The portal has tied-up with more than 250 bus operators to offer the ticket services to passengers.

“We have used the Microsoft .Net platform for the e-ticketing system. The whole system consists of multiple sub-systems that run and control bookings, reservations, accounting and other services,” informed Charan Padmaraju, CEO of redBus.in.

Passengers can book their tickets by logging on to the redBus portal and pay the fares through credit cards, debit cards, internet bank account, mobile or even cash. In addition, the portal offers home delivery of tickets for added convenience.

“The bus operator reserves certain seats in his buses for online sale through redBus. We procure more seats from the bus operator on need basis. We also have real time integrations with some bus operators whose ticket booking operations are computerized,” said Charan.

Compared to redBus’s initiative, Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) has carried out a large IT project for all the bus routes and passenger services. “Under the project, passengers can get time scheduling of buses with an SMS. Also, the passengers get the electronic tickets inside the bus via a handheld device,” informed PD Patel, secretary of GSRTC.

“Electronic ticketing via the device not only helps curb the menace of ticket duplication but also generates records and inventory in the data servers. For the past 1 year the project is running successfully across Gujarat and people across India are using the facility,” added Patel.

Ahmedabad-based Saltriver Infosystems have developed and deployed the Smart Bus solution for GSRTC. “The bus timing via mobile sms is based on time management system used by the corporates, which works using CellID and GPRS,” informed Deepak Arora, CEO of Saltriver Infosystems.

In addition to time scheduling, the Smart Bus solution has added features such as bus tracking and time recording. “In bus tracking, there’s a full tracking of bus with a GPS antennas installed on the vehicle, which helps to inform the passengers as well as the controllers about the bus position, distance between two depots and approximate travel time,” explained Arora.

Further, the time recording feature is enabled by an RFID device, through which bus conductors can check the timing of buses at the time of their entry into the depots. This data is then transferred to web servers via a simple SMS and the controller can maintain the record of each bus as well as the staff in real time. Thus it reduces the need for manual data entry, concludes Arora.