abhibusTravel ticketing service AbhiBus has got the franchise rights for booking buses operated by Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) and will set up offline centres for the same. AbhiBus will also power the official APSRTC bus ticketing service.

With this move, Hyderabad-based AbhiBus has added 9,000 buses to its service and the service currently supports 1,500 operators in 15,000 routes. It now powers the backend of 200 private fleets and three state transport corporations. The company was reportedly handling five RTCs earlier and it is not clear which all RTCs it has lost.

The news comes just ahead of the expected demerger of APSRTC that will now split into two separate RTCs following the split of Andhra Pradesh to form Telangana. The company has not clarified whether it will handle both the states or just what’s left of Andhra Pradesh following the split.

BusIndia’s loss

APSRTC bus ticketing and its backend was previously handled by BusIndia, a service that covers 17 road transport corporations across India. The service was created in association with Central Institute for Road Transport (CIRT) last year, to form a centralised platform for booking bus tickets offered by government road transport corporations. With APSRTC’s shift, it is not clear what the other RTCs will do.

When we checked the site today, not a single APSRTC bus is available for booking on the platform. Chairman and Managing Director, Radiant Info Systems Ltd that runs BusIndia, Venu Myneni had told Medianama recently that the company has franchise rights in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, similar to the rights that AbhiBus has now bagged in AP. BusIndia is also in talks with the central government to enable bus ticket booking via offline government channels such as post offices.

Update: Here’s the official statement from Myneni:

“Busindia never had a prior engagement with APSRTC Busindia is a national level Bus Ticket Website integrating bus tickets from all the leading transport corporations in this country. In the last 10 months period, Busindia.com has integrated some of the largest transport corporations in the country and offered a one point solution for travel and itinerary management for the passengers. We have approached APSRTC with a proposal to enlist Busindia as a franchisee and enable APSRTC Bus Ticket Sales through our Busindia.com system. APSRTC has also positively reviewed our request and indicated during our interactions to offer APSRTC franchisee to Busindia. We understand that APSRTC is likely to give these feeds to few other partners. We are waiting for the final formal notes in this regard from APSRTC. We are very confident that APSRTC will have significant benefits, value adds and passenger patronage in the Andhra Pradesh and South Indian states from the Busindia customer base once we integrate and launch APSRTC Bus Tickets in Busindia.com.

“The other aspect is there is no loss to Busindia if other portals are also additionally provided feeds. We have a strong user base and experience. We are very confident that we will contribute to the expected business growth from our franchisee engagement to APSRTC and other partners and will be one of the key partner to all our transport corporation partners.”

What about private buses?

Do note that APSRTC tickets were only available via BusIndia and APSRTC official website for a while, after a crackdown on private bus operators, following a few accidents involving them. We have heard from multiple sources that APSRTC had cut off feed to companies that were offering tickets of private buses along with that of APSRTC around the same time. AbhiBus currently lists private bus services in Andhra Pradesh, so it’s not clear what policy has changed at the government level to prompt such a decision.

Myneni had told Medianama that it was planning to add a few good private operators in areas where RTCs did not have service and it is not clear if this move was instrumental in the latest decision to shift operations to AbhiBus.

Competition

AbhiBus and BusIndia are the only companies that handle bus ticketing for RTCs as of now. However, in the general bus ticketing space the companies compete against Naspers-owned redBus, which had recently added hotel bookings as part of its service. redBus and Travelyaari had partnered with Cleartrip to offer a bus ticketing service, while AbhiBus has deals with Goibibo and Yatra. MakeMyTrip had acquired book ticketing site Ticketwala in 2010. Then there is TicketGoose, which raised Rs 18 crore from US-based venture capital firm Indventure last year.

We have reached out to AbhiBus and BusIndia for more information and will update the post as soon as we hear back from them.