With USD 100 mn. outlay, RailYatri to expand intercity bus ops
Kolkata, Oct. 8 (PTI): Online travel startup RailYatri is planning to expand its ‘InterCity’ bus service in the country over the next two years by increasing its fleet to 2000 from the existing 65 with an investment of up to USD 100 million, a top official said.
Backed by latest technology, the firm is set to create a multi-modal intercity transportation solution for at least one-million passengers who fail to get their train tickets confirmed in a day, he said.
“Our brand InterCity is already operational in 12 cities with a current fleet of 65 buses. We are working to expand fleet size to 2,000 with pan-India connectivity on all the important routes over the next two years.
“With its increased fleet, IntrCity could possibly become the largest intercity bus service brand in the country,” RailYatri Chief Business Officer Swapnil Tripathi told PTI over phone.
Modelled on European smart bus service Flixbus, InterCity is currently operational on limited routes in north, west and south India, he said.
“We follow asset-light model and all buses have been taken on lease. We have plans to launch InterCity services in the east in next fiscal,” Tripathi said.
Apart from leveraging its online users, InterCity is building air-conditioned lounges for passengers with provisions for offline ticket sale.
Talking about funding for the expansion project, he said the startup has already raised USD 15 million and another USD 20-25 million is in the pipeline.
Existing investors of RailYatri include Nandan Nilekani, Omidyar Network, Blume Ventures and Helion Ventures.
“RailYatri, which began its modest journey in 2011 by providing train information followed by meal-on-train and ticketing services, now seeks a fresh investment of USD 50-60 million over the next 12-15 months for its inter-city bus brand,” Tripathi stated.
Asked the reason for foraying into bus service, he said the company’s operational insight revealed that inter- city travel beyond 300km was a major problem area and demanded a trusted and reliable solution.
“Scaling up meal-on-train and ticketing services has its limitations but we foresee immense opportunity in offering alternative travel solution to those one-million train passengers who fail to get their seats confirmed,” Tripathi added.