Bringing Bus Ticketing Into the 21 st  Century

In Uganda, UGABUS founder Ronald Hakiza has already created 50+ jobs and reduced paper printing by 70% at bus stations. And, the company is just getting started. UGABUS provides online bus ticketing to hundreds of travelers on Uganda’s thousands of daily bus routes. Ronald explains how customers “can book any bus to travel anywhere in East Africa from the comfort of their homes.” A digitized process eliminates the hustle of bus booking at bus stations and reduces paper ticketing on the thousands of daily bookings.

Ronald is an entrepreneur full of smiles and full of smarts. As a youth, he always possessed a knack for sales. This same charisma and business understanding he leverages today to completely reimagine and innovate bus ticketing, which has changed little in decades.

UGABUS’s model is multi-faceted and solves several problems. First, the B2B solution. UGABUS digitizes and aggregates sales for bus companies to easily manage bookings. Bus operates now have a centralized listing of passengers, ticketed in advance, ready for travel. Second, the B2C solution. For bus customers, UGABUS functions just like an airline booking where a customer can go online, see bus times and pricing options, and book a ticket instantaneously. Ronald says that over 60% of bus travelers own smart phones. He is confident in the feasibility of his solution for the majority of  customers. And for those without smartphones? UGABUS trains and employs urban youth as ticket agents and promoters in bus stations. These ticket agents can generate tickets on the spot. And, when they do need to use paper, the company uses a thermal paper ticketing system, which requires far less paper than traditional ticketing.

Contrast this with the current model of issuing tickets. Customers who need to travel head to the bus station, wait in line, and buy a ticket. They are unaware of timetables or seat availability until they queue up at the bus station. Or, bus companies handwrite paper tickets on carbon copy paper on the steps of the bus as customers board. Carbon copy booklets cost about $3 each. On 20 daily routes, a bus operator uses several booklets, costing him significant cash. For consumers, this process slows down ticketing and boarding. Manuel seat assignment is a recipe for errors. And, the paper. Bus riders crumple up and throw receipts out the windows or on the floors of the bus, generating piles of garbage each day.

UGABUS is already gaining traction in a short year of business. In Kampala, they have issued several thousand tickets, worked with over 50 buses, and by last fall of 2018 they recruited over 75 ticket agents, providing youth with employment. Ronald is confident in the scalability of UGABUS. The positive reception of his business is already evident, and the company so far has only rolled out operations in just one of Kampala’s major bus parks.