Public transportation by road is the most preferred means of transport in Kenya. Cost of air transport is still prohibitive for the masses, while there’s hardly a working rail network except for movement between Nairobi and Mombasa after the completion of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which has since taken away a good number of travelers from the bus companies that serve the route.
Until recently when bus companies developed websites to enable travelers to book online, booking a bus for travel used to be a very tedious process. One had to go to the company’s offices to book. The process was too limiting in terms of comparing costs, convenience of travel among others.
With technological innovations, this has changed this decade. Entrepreneurs have come up with platforms that not only make it easy for one to book but also be able to compare prices, departure and arrival time, convenience of a company’s offices and easy modes of payments. With any type of phone, one can now book a bus using a USSD code or a mobile application and get their ticket on their phone.
There are two main competitors in the market currently, Iabiri and Buupass. These two platforms provide convenience, make it easy for travelers to choose the best and compare costs and get their tickets to their phones at the comfort of their homes or offices. Buupass has a competitive advantage in that even with a basic phone, one can book a bus via a USSD code, a feature Iabiri lacks. Buupass also provides for flight, train (SGR) tickets booking and car hire services.
The sector has also seen other technological disruptions recently especially in Nairobi with the coming of ride sharing platforms, where commuters book for a space in a more organised way. Traditionally, the sector has been characterised by rowdiness, disorganisation, insecurity and recklessness. The coming of SWVL (an Egyptian company) and Little Shuttle (a local innovation), has caused some disruptions in the industry with most commuters now preferring them. They provide convenience due to their timed rides and predictability in cost of travel.
For long distance travelers, the independent platforms provide the convenience of comparing prices on one platform than using a company’s website.
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