With Railways running minimum train services across the nation due to the COVID-19 situation, buses have emerged as the primary mode of transportation for lakhs of people who travelled to their hometown to celebrate Diwali.
Experts involved in the transport sector stated the preference of online bus bookings of customers have gone up in the past one year as there has been a behavioural shift among people post the pandemic outbreak.
According to online bus ticketing platform, RedBus, about 80 percent of the bookings made ahead of the Diwali weekend showed that majority of the people were travelling to tier 2 and 3 towns from metro cities. It also stated online ticket booking in buses was up by 15 percent this year.
Presently Redbus has tied up with 1,900 travel operators and 17 State Regional Transport Corporations in order to run 40,000 daily bus services to cater to 39 lakh passengers during the week of Diwali.
"We are experiencing a big recovery in the travel sector as many travelers are making the journey to their hometowns for Diwali in buses. Despite all the drawbacks that we have faced this year, it is extremely encouraging to see the festive season contributing towards the revival of the travel industry" said Prakash Sangam, CEO RedBus.
Maharashtra is among the top five states across the country to record a surge in online booking of bus tickets. Some of the routes which have recorded heavy demand are, Mumbai-Goa, Pune-Nagpur and Pune-Indore.
"Buses have also turned out to be reliable for commuters as trains are often getting cancelled. Also unlike trains buses carry less people and are sanitised thoroughly which have also instilled confidence among travellers" said a city based bus operator.
Operators also mentioned many of the travellers are tend to be repeat customers who now prefer buses to trains.
"I have clients who were apprehensive about travelling in buses but had to travel because there was no other option available due to lockdown, now these people are preferring buses over trains stating its safer and more comfortable" stated Vinod Singh Chauhan, a city based bus operator.
Meanwhile, travellers also mentioned that presently buses are the safest mode of transport if the time of journey is not a problem.
"I work in Mumbai and my hometown is in Nagpur. During this time of COVID-19 travelling in trains is unsafe as distancing protocols are not followed and also there are more people travelling in trains" said Datta Sawant, a sales executive professional.
"If time is not the problem then travelling in a bus is safe because most of the luxury buses are well maintained and are sanitised properly which is just the opposite in trains" said Smita Chavan, an entrepreneur.