In 22 Indian cities, an app called Chalo has been tracking local buses using GPS trackers, providing a service that is crucial for India’s traffic-clogged cities — showing riders when the next bus is coming.
The bet on Chalo is undeniably attractive — bus tracking and digital ticketing could be key to the future of public transit in India. Firms like Ola and Uber are unlikely to eternally burn their capital on subsidizing rides over the long term, even as automobile sales slow and inflation soars. The result: a surge in demand for public transit among a group of users who want better predictability and (possibly) digital payments.
That said, the company’s business model raises a key concern: should the tracking data of public buses — a potentially valuable and important public resource — be restricted to one company?