India travels on buses as the most common mode of transport. And most Indians prefer evening and night travels for inter city options.
These are the findings of a comprehensive report detailing the transformative trends in intercity bus travel during 2023, released by redBus, an online bus ticketing platform. As the world grappled with the aftermath of the pandemic, the intercity bus industry not only witnessed a resurgence but also underwent a profound transformation, showcasing its resilience and adaptability.
Massive Surge in Bus Bookings and Network Expansion
In the first nine months of 2023, a staggering 6 crore bus tickets were booked, with over 50,000 buses available daily on the redBus platform. This surge reflects the post-Covid economic revival and the adaptability of the intercity bus industry.
The intercity bus network expanded significantly, connecting nearly 10,000 unique cities, towns, and villages through 4.2 lakh unique routes. Approximately 20,000 new routes were added during the year, emphasising the industry's commitment to reaching every corner of the nation.
Online Booking Gains Traction in Smaller Towns, Sustainable Travel Takes Off
Online ticket bookings continued to gain popularity in non-metro and smaller towns, accounting for 53 per cent of all bus bookings. Tier 4 towns represented 26 per cent, while Tier 2 & 3 towns combined constituted 27 per cent of bookings. The convenience of online booking saw 6 lakhs travellers from Tier 2 & 3 cities making their maiden online intercity bus bookings through redBus.
Electric buses emerged as a serious and viable option, covering 600+ routes in India with 400+ services per day. Routes such as Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh and Bangalore-Tirupati witnessed substantial growth in ticket sales from electric buses, reflecting a growing interest in sustainable travel.
Peak Travel Times, Bus Preferences And Major Travel Occasions
The majority of travellers (76 per cent) preferred buses between 6 pm and midnight, with AC buses constituting 63 per cent of all intercity bus bookings. The sustained demand for late-night journeys and comfortable travel experiences showcased the industry's responsiveness to customer preferences.
Noteworthy travel occasions included November 10, with 3.6 lakh people travelling, and December 23 and 22, with 3.55 lakhs and 3.5 lakh people respectively. These events coincided with festive periods, highlighting the importance of bus travel during celebrations.
Pilgrimage and Tourist Destinations Thrive
Religious destinations like Tirupati and Shirdi saw a significant increase in bookings, while Goa remained the top leisure destination. The diverse travel preferences underscored the broad appeal of bus travel for both religious and leisure purposes.
Trends For 2024
Sustainable Travel Surge: The intercity bus sector is expected to witness a surge in sustainable travel practices, with more operators adopting environmentally friendly initiatives, including the onboarding of electric buses.
There will be a shift towards seamless and contactless experiences, with an enhanced focus on technology-driven features for a frictionless journey from booking to boarding.
Initiatives to improve infrastructure for pilgrimage destinations are likely to drive an increase in pilgrimage-focused travel across the country.
Travellers are expected to seek offbeat and culturally rich locales, leading to an increase in interest towards unique destinations. redBus aims to collaborate with local communities to provide passengers with diverse and enriching travel experiences.