Gurgaon-based bus aggregator platform Shuttl has raised $20 million in a Series-A round from Lightspeed, Times Internet and Sequoia India. The company will utilise the fund for expansion and technology. Currently, the platform offers last-mile connectivity to commuters across 50 routes in Delhi (NCR).
Amit Singh, Co-founder, Shuttl, said, “We exist to solve the office commute problem while positively impacting issues like congestion, pollution and safety. We have progressed in this direction in partnership with Car Free Day and Rapid Metro in easing out last-mile connectivity and daily commute for users.”
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Since its inception, Shuttl claims to have offered more than eight lakh rides and is currently clocking about about 15,000 rides a day. The price points for a ride range between Rs 20 and Rs 100. Co-founder Deepanshu Malviya added, “We are living in exciting times, where there is a supercomputer in every pocket which creates infinite possibilities. We’re excited that we’re using our skills in solving a problem that has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of commuters and urban residents.”
Bejul Somaia, MD, Lightspeed India Partners Advisors LLP, said, “What excites Lightspeed about Shuttl is the opportunity for the company to have massive positive social impact by helping address the problems of transportation, safety and pollution. Solving daily travel problem in a safe, affordable and green way has great potential.”
Not everything has been smooth sailing for Shuttl though. Recently, the RTA suspended operations of Shuttl and Ola Shuttle in Gurgaon for violating rules and operating without permits. Shuttl, however, denies halting its service in Gurgaon and claims to have all legal compliance for the service.
Shuttl is also engaging with relevant stakeholders to work towards the success of the odd-even initiative of Delhi Government. With more than 500 buses on its platform and about 15,000 rides a day, it aims to provide an affordable, convenient and efficient transportation solution.
Rising levels of pollution and traffic jams in all major cities have forced people to revisit their daily commute options. Ride-sharing and cab-pooling have seen some success. Uber and Ola allow consumers to share rides. Then there are other emerging players such as Poolmyride, Zify that also offer ride sharing servies. Global giant BlaBla Car, had raised $200million in Series-D funding earlier this year. Though its main focus has been on inter-city rides, it too provides intra-city services.
People have traditionally preferred private transport over buses because of the unreliable nature and lack of transparency in public transport. Bengaluru based Zipgo, Mumbai-based rBus and Gurgaon-based Shuttl are the biggest players in the space, that are trying to change this scenario. According to experts, the emerging bus service market is going to be larger than the taxi market, which is estimated at Rs 60, 000 crore.
Besides shuttle services, bike taxi services Baxi and MTaxi also launched their service in Gurgaon. They claim to be fastest mode of last connectivity in Gurgaon and have raised substantial angel rounds.
While the market opportunity is huge and there is a pertinent problem to be solved, startups and enterprises in this space may face an uphill task dealing with government regulations and other logistics and technological issues. The recent odd-even traffic rule in Delhi to curb pollution is opening up doors to these companies as more commuters are now forced to rely on alternate means to commute. Shuttle recently launched ‘oddevenbyshuttl.com’ a recent initiative to provide relevant information and news about developments.
Shuttle services are becoming the preferred mode of transport in China and experts say the plight of last-mile connectivity in urban India will drive shuttle services faster. With this round, Shuttl will have deeper pockets over Zipgo and rBus. However, Ola had allocated Rs 150 crore for shuttle services and will give fierce competition to Shuttl.
(With inputs from Jai Vardhan)