How Ola-owned Ridlr, India’s premier public transport app, is bringing IoT to transportation
Our connection to Ridlr started in 2013 with an investment in parent company Bird’s eye systems, which was providing real-time traffic updates in Mumbai using crowd-sourced data. What the company discovered at the time was that people were spending a considerable amount of their time waiting for public transport (buses), rather than on actual travel. Thus, what should have only taken 30 minutes for travel instead took 45 minutes, as a result of having to wait 15 minutes for the bus to arrive. This may not seem like much, but it can have a tremendous impact in a country where buses are considered the most popular mode of transportation in urban cities, and where roughly 170,000 buses operate in the public sector, carrying approximately 70 million commuters every day.
Ridlr was thus founded in an effort to tackle the problem of reducing the wait time for passengers, making the entire commuting process more efficient. To do this, the company developed a commuter application solution that offers users the ability to browse the bus timetable and book train or metro trips using their mobile phones. Users can also receive real-time updates en route with traffic and incident alerts and can pre-book an entire trip (consisting of multiple commute options like Metro and BEST Bus tickets in Mumbai) prior to commuting. The mobile ticket then gets validated when the commuter gets on the bus or metro and offers users the ability to switch the mode of transport (from the bus to metro) while using the same ticket.
A key benefit of using mobile tickets is that it doesn’t require an overhaul of existing systems since it can co-exist with the current system of paper-based tickets. Additionally, Ridlr provides commuters with the added convenience of travelling cashless since the entire transaction can be completed on their mobile device, including the ability to recharge monthly passes. As a result, more than 27,000 monthly pass holders no longer have to travel to depots to recharge their passes every month, offering great convenience and efficiency to users. As such, Ridlr’s solution has seen tremendous success and is leading the charge in enabling mass-transit mobile ticketing in Mumbai, one of the fourth-largest clusters in India.
Today, Ridlr estimates they are providing ticketing services to over 120,000 monthly commuters in Mumbai and providing real-time traffic information to more than 400,000 active users across Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. Ridlr’s strong position in the market also strengthens their ability to help foster the growth of mobile and IoT platforms in India (mobility is the third biggest spend in India after education and housing). In fact, it is estimated that $150 billion is spent annually on commuting in India, with an average of 115 million trips per day. To help ease this level of congestion in major cities, the government is said to be building 33 Metros (eight active) by 2030.
However, despite this level of infrastructure buildout, the last-mile transit using buses, autos, or cabs is still highly inefficient. “The digital technology-driven services of Ridlr and Ola are a perfect synergistic fit. We have been offering end-to-end mass transit solutions to Indians, making their daily commute seamless across different public transportation modes. Ola, on the other hand, has made deep inroads in the realm of urban mobility through its smart ride-sharing solutions. By joining forces with Ola, we are delighted to become part of an evolved ecosystem that will act as a one-stop destination for any urban commute in an affordable and seamless manner,” said Brijraj Vaghani, Co-founder, Ridlr.
Interestingly enough, Brijraj’s association with Qualcomm started back in 2005. It was his first job out of school, and where he learned about embedded systems, which is a core part of Ridlr business.
Collaboration with Qualcomm
There have been many ways that Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, has been able to provide support to Ridlr. One of those is through our participation on Ridlr’s Board, where we were able to provide the company with strategic insights on their business. In addition, they were provided with access to attend our invite-only networking event (CEO Summit) which provided them with valuable global perspectives coupled with business development opportunities with global industry partners and technology experts.
In addition, Qualcomm Ventures collaborated with Ridlr by introducing them to the Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. India team, which helped Ridlr solve key problems in their mobile ticketing platform. The platform enables users to purchase single tickets for their travel while also providing the ability to switch a passenger’s ticket seamlessly from the metro train to a bus. As a result of its discussion with the Qualcomm India Team, Ridlr is deploying Qualcomm’s WiFi technologies in over 5,000 B.E.S.T. (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) buses, which allows a bus conductor to validate the mobile ticket within 10 seconds of a customer boarding the bus.
This involved overcoming several technical challenges in unpredictable environmental conditions which Qualcomm Technologies was able to assist in.
“Ridlr has been working with Qualcomm on developing the ticketing solution for buses which relies on the WiFi protocol. The WiFi module is a key component of Ridlr’s solution which met our key requirements, including consistent connectivity, a reliable and stable connection, and the ability to connect and disconnect with clients quickly and in a power efficient manner,” said Brijraj Vaghani.
We are thrilled to have Ridlr as part of the Qualcomm Ventures family. With WiFi-enabled buses, India will enrich the data nodes for the transport grid, bringing valuable insights into urban and traffic planning. Mobile ticketing has brought convenience to commuters and avoids cash handling issues for the transport system. This is a practical example of how IoT-enabled devices will make a difference in the daily life of commuters in India. We look forward to expanding this collaboration with Ridlr/Ola in the future.
Disclaimer: Qualcomm Ventures India is an investor in YourStory.
Varsha Tagare is Managing Director of Qualcomm Ventures India.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)