National, November 10, 2020.
With the festival of lights approaching, the nation seems determined to make it a family affair this year, evident from the high volume of intercity bus ticket bookings registered so far on redBus, India’s largest online bus ticketing platform.
The booking for Diwali on redBus has already started 15 days in advance before the festival on 14th November.
About 1900+ Private Bus Operators and 17 State Regional Transport Corporations are gearing up to cater to the year’s peak travel days by running around 40000 daily services, through which they are expected to transport 39 lakh passengers, across a cumulative distance of 47 crorekilometers during the Diwali week.
Data from redBus so far indicates that travel between Chennai and Madurai, is the nation’s most sought after bus route, for Diwali. It also indicates that the highest demand for travel is coming from Chennai across India.
Accordingly, the top 10 routes in the country during Diwali are as follows:
|Top Routes 2020 (to and fro)||Top Routes (2019)|
|Chennai-Madurai Bangalore-Hyderabad Vijayawada-Hyderabad Pune-Nagpur Visakhapatnam-Hyderabad Chennai-Coimbatore Delhi-Gorakhpur Asansol-Kolkata Burdwan-Kolkata Durgapur-Kolkata||Bangalore-Chennai Bangalore-Hyderabad Chennai-Madurai Chennai-Coimbatore Bangalore-Coimbatore Pune-Nagpur Chennai-Tiruchirapalli Pune-Nashik Delhi-Lucknow Pune-Mumbai|
With railways continuing to operate limited trains across the nation, buses tend to be the only hope for lakhs of people to spend the festival with their families. Some of the popular train routes of the country where the demand is being met by buses are Patna-Kolkata, Ballia-Lucknow, Palasa-Visakhapatnam, Berhampore-Kolkata and Bhubaneswar-Kolkata.
About 60% of the current bookings are for travel within states and the remaining 40% for interstate travel. 58% of the current bookings have been made on Air-Conditioned buses.
The top 5 states where redBus is witnessing high demand for travel are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat.
Within each of these states, the top 3 routes are as follows:
|State||Routes (to and fro)|
|Tamil Nadu||Chennai-Madurai Chennai-Coimbatore Chennai-Tirunelveli|
|Andhra Pradesh||Hyderabad-Bangalore Vijayawada-Hyderabad Visakhapatnam-Hyderabad|
|Maharashtra||Pune-Nagpur Pune-Indore Mumbai-Goa|
|Karnataka||Bangalore-Hyderabad Bangalore-Kalaburagi Bangalore-Vijapura|
|Gujarat||Ahmedabad-Indore Rajkot-Ahmedabad Surat-Ahmedabad|
A behavioural shift that has been evident post-COVID is the preference for online bus booking going up. This has gained traction lately due to the safety and convenience aspects associated with it, compared to offline modes of ticket purchase. Another interesting trend from the beginning of the festive season has been a surge in travel to tier 2 and 3 cities and towns, resulting in them contributing 80% of current bookings (up from 65% last year), a clear indication that a majority of the people are travelling to their home towns during the festival.
For Diwali this year, the shortest intercity bus route booked in the country is between Guwahati and Machkhowa in Assam, covering a distance of 4.9 kilometers in 20 minutes and the longest is between Jodhpur and Mysore, between Rajasthan and Karnataka, covering a distance of 1965 kilometers in 38 hours.
Safety continues to be an important factor under consideration during the festive rush, with redBus strictly adhering to laid guidelines, applicable to both bus operators and travellers, under its Safety+ program. Accordingly, all passengers and crew are required to wear masks while travelling, with facilities for hand sanitization offered within the vehicle. Temperature checks will be undertaken at boarding and no linen will be provided by operators. Buses will be sanitized after each trip in accordance with established guidelines.
While Safety+ ensures that the partner bus operators enforce a slew of strict safety measures to keep the passengers safe, redBus has also listed out a set of passenger guidelines encouraging them to travel responsibly for a safe journey.
Speaking on the occasion, Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus, said, “We are experiencing a big recovery in travel sentiment as many travelers are making the journey to their hometowns for Diwali. Usually the festive season with Eid, Dussehra and Diwali is a peak travel period and in this difficult year that has witnessed many travel restrictions due to Covid 19, it is extremely encouraging to see the festive season contributing towards the revival in travel. As bus travelers look to resume travelling after the complete lifting of all restrictions, redBus and our bus operator partners are committed to providing them with a safe and comfortable travel experience. We expect intercity bus travel to remain in demand for the rest of the festive season and beyond as bus travel steadily returns to normalcy.”