Thursday, July 24, 2008

Service Review: online ticket booking [Updated]

December 2015 Update: I booked again on Redbus a ticket from Bengaluru to Goa on Seabird- Didn't face any issues and experience was smooth

May 2012 Update: We should practice before we preach. I booked my first ticket on Redbus recently. It was smooth and no issues were faced. I need to take back most of my original comments.

June 2011 Update: Redbus reportedly booked tickets worth 117 crores during 2010-2011 (about 20 lakh tickets at an average price of Rs 600 per ticket). Company has raised additional funding and is expanding its operations. Contrary to couple of negative issues I had raised in my original post, it seems company has overcome its initial hiccups and has been largely successful in its business. I wish Redbus all the best.

March 2010 update: My friend has travelled twice recently using redbus booked tickets and he had a smooth journey.

---original post---- is an year and a half old startup by few young entrepreneurs (under Pilani Soft Labs Pvt. Ltd) and is funded by, who call as one of their flagship investments. Bharti Jacob of said at a Startup Saturday in IIMB that Redbus business volume has reached from 10 tickets a day to nearly 1000 tickets a day. That’s a phenomenal and promising growth for an infant start up. Kudos to Redbus team.

With due respects to everyone involved, I recently read in several negative reviews about this service and few of my friends also felt they could have got better services had they avoided RedBus. I’ve not verified how legitimate these complaints are but they appear to be written by irate passengers who didn’t get the expected quality of service from bus operators for the tickets purchased through Few others had payment and customer care related issues.

Based on my own observation and analysis coupled with information sourced from above, I’m offering in this post a review of business model, market conditions, scope for improvements and more. Logo
In this scenario we have following stake holders: A bus operator and their staff, Passengers and who coordinates between these 2. To me it looks like bus operators are not much dependent on to fill their seats but its passengers who are lazy to go to nearest travel agent and Redbus which has stepped in as a mediatory trying to cash in on this. In any business, it’s always desirable to get rid of middlemen, even if it means a little inconvenience and same goes for Bus ticket booking. Even airlines are planning to adopt a “no commission to travel agents” policy because internet has become so common enabling customers to book direct at airline website so that they don’t find a need to depend on travel agents any more. Soon those willing to avail the services of travel agents for air tickets will have to pay the agents themselves.

Coming back to, here are my observations:
Most of the popular and leading bus operators have their own websites and strong network of agents-these operators are able to fill the seats on their own and have not subscribed to Even with other operators, there’re serious allegations that those going to the boarding point with a ticket booked through are not treated well. If you’re wondering what problems bus crew have in giving prompt service to redbus customers, you need to understand the way private bus operators function.

Traditionally, running an inter-city bus service will involve following stake holders-The owners, their staff (driver and conductor) and travel agents. Most of the seats are filled usually by travel agents, who make their money by way of commissions received. With the entry of, the travel agent is sensing a competition which is cutting into his earnings (Till yesterday you were going to his office to book tickets and now you’re directly going to the boarding point in front of his office with a red bus booked ticket in hand. Why will he give the same old service when he is not getting a penny out of you?). These travel agents interact closely with bus drivers and conductors, hence have an upper hand in ensuring quality of services to passengers (or the lack of it), than which doesn’t have a physical presence at the boarding point and deals only with the owners of a Bus Company.

Travel agents, in nexus with bus crew, often cheat bus owners by saying “x number of seats were empty yesterday” while selling those seats in the last minute to desperate travelers without issuing proper tickets. Depending on the demand supply situation these last minute passengers sometime manage to bargain hard and pay as low as 50% of the normal fare and travel without the ticket (or at times forced to pay premium). I’ve personally experienced in Omer travels who put plastic stools in the passage way and accommodate extra people. Money earned through these unaccounted seats is often shared among bus crew and travel agent who brings the passengers. More the number of passengers coming through and other such service providers less will be the chance for these people to unofficially sell off a seat and make money. customers, having paid in full, are at the mercy of the bus crew to reach their destinations and often get worst of the service due to bad attitudes and mentality of some bus crew. Only surprise raids by bus owners can stop this.

Not all customer face above situation, but probability is fairly high if you’re travelling with lesser known bus operators who may neither have proper control on their staff nor have cared to educate their staff on how to treat a customer.

Few Redbus customers complain their bad experience-Redbus routes the complaint to bus owner, who in turn ask the same staff for an explanation. Any cooked up explanation given by these people will be promptly relayed back to the customer. Some readymade excuses are “That bus had a technical issue, so we had to send them in an alternate bus”, “there was some confusion regarding boarding point-we weren’t correctly informed” and such. If Redbus can afford to send some ground staff at popular pickup points (like T Nagar and Koyambedu in Chennai, GandhiNagar in Bangalore, Ameerpet, Lakdi ka pool in Hyderabad and so on) to assist its customer that will be great.

What Redbus should do:

  1. Provide an option where those booking tickets through Redbus can give their feedback and rating for a particular travels on the redbus website. If several customers have given a poor rating to a particular travels, others can avoid that travels
  2. Make bus owners to conduct surprise checks to verify if the bus crew is treating Redbus booked ticket holders at par with others. Also consider sending some ground staff to popular pick up points to verify if your customers are getting good treatment.
  3. You’ve grown from 10 tickets a day to 1000 tickets a day. Obviously quality will suffer when volume grows out of control. Time to expand your call centre, invest in better infrastructures and be selective with the bus operators you sign up, so as to ensure there’s no dip in quality.
  4. Do some basic checks before tying up with a new operator. Or if feedback on a particular operator is consistently bad, stop booking tickets for them
The convenience of not having to go to a travel agent and book online from your home/office is a good experience, but only if that is complemented by a prompt service when you go to board the bus. As redbus is capable of attracting huge number of customers they should voluntarily extend their services beyond just booking a ticket to ensure that customers indeed get a pleasant travel experience. If they are giving good volume of business to bus companies they can easily demand that their customers are not neglected by bus crew and quality of service is not compromised.

I’ve also read that Redbus team takes feedback from its customers and tries its best to address concerns (someone claimed Redbus booked a flight ticket free of charge for the customer when his bus ticket was cancelled but no alternate arrangements could be made-If that is true that’s really worth appreciating) I believe Redbus team will take my post in right spirit and will work towards better customer satisfaction. I wish them all the best.

How was your experience with or other such services ( and such)? Comment and tell us.

April 2009 Update: I see that RedBus has introduced customer reviews feature, one of the suggestions made in this post. Appreciate this feature and hope customers will find it handy.

Disclaimer: Independent observations only. Actual experience may differ from user to user. Use your discretion


Mridula said...

Excellent review Shrinidhi, I avoid private operators like plague on the Delhi to hills route. We have some really terrible experience on Delhi-Manali routes more than once. But of course no Red Bus experience for us as of now, so my horror stories are entirely due to the misdeeds of the private operators.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Mridula for sharing your experience...

Yes, after my bad experience in Hyderabad-Bangalore route I'm relying on train primarily or only few well known bus operators...

I guess Redbus doesn't cover north India

harry said...

nice review...!!!! :D

hari said...

Private bus operators are a menace with their terrible drivers, power steering driven airbuses and total disrespect for other road users.

Even state buses are better driven, if only by reason that the buses are not as manoeuvrable as the airbuses.

Venkata said...


Excellent work on this one. Total and complete information. You have not only identified problem areas but also how to remove those problems. But as usual they will not heed.

I had really bad experience with these goondas in Majestic. I will never travel in pvt buses except a few who are quasi-professional. But my body only prefers railways anyway.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Harry,

I believe govt buses already have speed governors installed. That may be the reason they drive slow?

Yes... They talk sweet till you make the payment... Your sorrow begins next moment...

Thanks all...

Rohit Tripathi said...

Hey nice review Srinidhi... back on your blog after such a long time.. keep writing

New Post :
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na....Rocks

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Welcome back Rohit...

Checking your review...

Nandu Nair said...

Thanks for your article and I am happy to hear that online ticket booking is getting more accepted in the society but i was wondering if it is really possible to implement the “no commission to travel agents” policy ?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I think popular airlines can afford to go for "no commission to travel agents" policy... may not be viable for bus operators yet...

Reason being, most of the customers book tickets online-either through sites like makemytrip or direct on airline website... Sites like MMT already charge little extra for tickets, than airline websites. If you book at airline websites you can save few rupees to few hundred rupees...

Number of people approaching the travel agents is significantly coming down. So airlines aren't really dependent on them. Passengers willing to avail the service of agents may pay little extra directly to these agents while others booking direct with airlines can save some money...(if airlines pass the advantage to passengers)

I guess some low cost airlines are already doing this...

Infovision said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
richa said...

nice comment!!!
i had a horrible experince with redbus. i called redbus, spoke to some lady executuive and cancelled my ticket, she said that half of the amount will be debited and she is going to send a mail on my e mail id....but it never happened, my credit card statement shows the full amount and redbus people are not ready to take the reaponsibility. i dont know whom to contact now!!!

Pranav Jha said...

Nice review Shrinidhi. However, I had a different experience. I tried to book a ticket with redbus and it said no tickets available (not even the same day). I went to the market, to a travel agent and got the ticket - same route, same bus operator, same day!! I was surprised. Then I realized that redbus shows one or two seat quota on a bus.

Then I got referred to a new website by a friend. This is a new startup on bus tickets called

I havent seen any other site like this. They have full chart visibility for ALL their routes. I can get the most accurate seat status on They have written on their website that they do this by deploying some reservation system at the bus owners offices (basically the on the ground travel agents)

I love it! I think this is the future of travel portals in India. currently seems to be operating only in West India - I am waiting when they will offer this service in Bangalore.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sad to hear but thanks for sharing your experience. Hope Redbus pays attention

It is bad if Bus operator & red bus are not synchronized in real time.. May be few operators have given limited no of seats to Redbus as they are confident of filling the rest on their own. We'll see how effective Travel Yaari will be...

Divas Gupta said...

This provide a very very Bad service. I never face that much

problem after buying a ticket from that website in my whole life. after

receiving the payment they are not entertain your any call or any

query. as my departure time is 8.30 PM but i am still waiting and there

is 10.30 on by watch. They are not provide any bus number on ticket,

they only give the seat number and i change bus 3 times till now. and

still there is no body there to entertain us. even when i call on the

given number on his website and ticket, my call put on hold for a very

long time and when i redial no body pick up the phone. and when i am

trying to cancel the ticket it always gives a error message which is

"ERROR: Unable to process your request. Please try later. ". Now dont

know what to do. So My request to all passenger who are going to buy

ticket from this "" please do confirm the bus number and also

the timing. and i prefer please never book ticket from this website and

you will be very happy. as i am going on trip by taking leave from

office but my whole night and whole schedule is now go in hell.
So Please, My request to all of you please never book ticket from this


Thanks and Regards
Divas Gupta

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Divas. Redbus team should take extra efforts not to lose customer due to carelessness like this.

Anonymous said...

I am a delhite and I have booked a return ticket of bus from red bus website.
They journey was between banalore - cochin-bangalore. After tolerating the pathetic journey from bangalore to cochin in bangalore based yes bee travel I have canceled the ticket from cochin to banalore but Red bus did not return the refund. So please beware to book the ticket from red bus. It is costly and the listed travels are also not good.
I cannot forget the journey from Yes bee travel . The bus started 2 hour late without any prior information and loaded heavy luggage(cargo luggage) on the roof of the bus. Bus got down in between the way for 2 more hour and we have reached cochin almost 5 hour late.
After that torchure, they dropped us at different station knowing that we cannot understand the language.
Please book a ticket with known travel instead of reling on websites.


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your experience

billuraj said...


I am BilluRaj from Bangalore.

I had tried the services of for the first time and it was an utter disaster. I had filled the ticket booking form online by about 11 ish of 30th dec 2009. (Dest: Trivandrum from Bangalore) I had requested a travel ticket to Trivandrum from Bangalore. I get an sms immediately on my mobile and soon after i get this confirmation call from their office. I asked her as to when the ticket can be collected. I was told that the ticket will reach my residance by evening.

As I had no one at home, and desperate to have the ticket, i reach home early and kept waiting for the ticket. I call them by 6 and then i was given a msg that since the actor’s sad demise, there was some kind of a commotion in the city and that the ticket will be delivered to my residance the next morning (31/12/2009). I wanted this ticket so very badly that i decided to wait for the same at home. Even after 12 noon, i did not get intimation and thus I call them. The answer was very casual and said that the delivery boy will come over after 4PM.

I wanted to speak to the manager and the operator keeps asking me what the reason was and then i hear someone talking in the background, then he keeps me on hold and states that the manager was not available around. I wanted the number of the delivery person, i was told that he does not have a mobile. After persuading the operator he said that the manager will call me back and his name is Vinod.

I realized that trusting these unprofessional set of people on an important travel would be stupidity and called up Shama Travels directly to book my ticket.

I get a call (who spoke in pretty much comprehendible english) after some time stating that he wanted to come over to my resiadance for delivery of my ticket. As at that hour its just around 24 more hours for my departure time, i had already booked my ticket with Shama Travels directly on phone (Come more economical than the same ticket thru

I recommend people to be sure of what they are getting into. This also could be a one off experiance but that makes it a 100% disastrous experiance for me.



Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your experience.

You didn't try online ticketing? Good that they made an attempt to deliver before departure time, but I can understand the anxiety as travel date nears but ticket doesn't reach. So what happened after that? did you cancel redbus ticket?

Also, a friend of mine booked through redbus for Chennai Bangalore travel on 31st night-he hasn't reported any problem, so I'm assuming all went well for him.

Rahul Garg said...

Guys i had the worst experience. just in booking the tickets .. i dont knw how it wud be later on..i booked tickets for jaipur some 4 days bak. call centre girl confirmed my booking.. took my address, ph no., boarding pt etcc etc.. tomorrow i hav to go.. i habeen calling for past 3 days...everytime the ppl at redbus tell me that my ticket will reah by evening. now today they tell me there no such booking!!! can u beleive it.. aftr so many days they tell me now that the ticket is not booked... when i call their centre they cant help... sometimes they wud keep my call on waiting n let it happen for 15 20 mins n then end the call.... i m so very frustrated. feel lyk goin to the consumer forum. u cant do something lyk this... i hav to see my sis after 3 years. n there is no seats available in any of the travels now.. n yes there isnt any girl named vijayalakhsmi , the girl who booked my ticks.. so wat do i do.. dont hav any options. do i? its better to directly take ticks from the travels... so anyone please before booking your tickets with redbus, be prepared for all this stuff or even worst... i jst wanted to go to meet my sis... but it cud be any serious matter. it cud be your meeting or anything/.... so the best option is IGNORE REDBUS .. DO NOT EVER BOOK YOUR TICKS WITH REDBUS. THE PPL ARE SO MEAN N RUDE N AFTER ALL this U DONT EVEN GET THE TICKETS

Rahul Rai said...

Travelyaari is an online bus tickets service provider. It is the only fully online bus ticket reservation system in India. It has the largest bus ticket inventory for more than 1000 routes in India. View bus seating arrangement before you book.

Rahul Rai said... offers cheap online bus tickets. You will find Bus tickets to over 1000 routes at cheapest prices. Search and book bus tickets online. Travelyaari makes bus travel easy, fast and reliable.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Rahul Garg: Thnx for sharing your experience

Rahul: best wishes for travelyaari

mrpanickar said...

My bus met with an accident early morning at 06:00 am in the middle of no where and got badly shattered, luckily the driver and cleaner escaped with injuries and did not succumb. Iron and wood logs from a truck had pierced through the windscreen and reached the passenger seats. The front crumpled and shattered. Even in the wake of an accident of this magnitude redbus did not take any responsibility to take passengers to safety despite calling them several times. They then said they could only give a refund. Later we I aksed for refund redbus said that the same bus carrried passengers to destination. Most passengers after waiting for 3 hours in the middle of no where took the State transport and found their own way. Imagine traffic police allowing a shattered bus no windscreen no rear view and front crumpled ferrying passengers, what a lie

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Could you cross check with any other passenger?

Also Redbus's responsibility is limited in this regard right?

Anonymous said...

i had a very bad experience with Redbus Hyderabad Team last month.Even worse is the fact that they still have not bothered to get back to me when the complaint was raised
I opted for a cash on delivery option for a ticket from bangalore to hydrebad,the date of which was one week later.Due to personal emergency i had to travel to my home town on the day on which ticket was to be delivered. So i asked the delivery boy to be at the place between 2 45 pm and 3 pm.he bluntly refused and so also his manager.The manager comment was worse- " we cant delivery tickets at your convenient time,either you take tickets at time convenient to delivery boy or cancel it" i had to cancel the tickets even after i gave 3 options for delivery
So Hyderabadi people.BEWARE - Redbus Hyderabad teamis the worst team i have come across.Absolutely pathetic customer care ... Avoid redbus at least in Hyderabad

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your experience... Wasn't it possible to do with an e-ticket instead of printed one?

gill timbers said...

I paid INR 1200 for journey PUNE TO NAGPUR. Boarding point was NASIK PHATA...I reached there and was told that bus will come around 10.30 PM.
At 10.0 PM Prakash Travels which is having no space for people to sit - you stand in moisqutoes....wrapped up all of a sudden...gave me driver number and went to home.

I was told by the driver- he will reach around 12.0 in night....and this was just a begning. Ac was not working- i stepped into a warm and humid bus...only to know that my choosen seat is not available and I was given back seat....

People started yelling- for AC not was never cool...

Whole night driver keep on getting people who were lying down on floor or were sitting 3-4 on one birth...and I shot one image to prove it.

When Nagpur was 30kms...driver stopped was diesel DRY....

redbus is earning good money - 1200 for a journey in a substandard bus....which goes diesel dry 4.0 PM while bus should have reached Nagpur at 10.0 AM !! What a joke !

Anonymous said...

I paid INR 1200 for journey PUNE TO NAGPUR. Boarding point was NASIK PHATA...I reached there and was told that bus will come around 10.30 PM.
At 10.0 PM Prakash Travels which is having no space for people to sit - you stand in moisqutoes....wrapped up all of a sudden...gave me driver number and went to home.

I was told by the driver- he will reach around 12.0 in night....and this was just a begning. Ac was not working- i stepped into a warm and humid bus...only to know that my choosen seat is not available and I was given back seat....

People started yelling- for AC not was never cool...

Whole night driver keep on getting people who were lying down on floor or were sitting 3-4 on one birth...and I shot one image to prove it.

When Nagpur was 30kms...driver stopped was diesel DRY....

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion- operator delays are usually not in control of Redbus. User ratings should advise others.. also if such issues are repeated again and again, then Redbus should blacklist such operator

bus from lcct said...

The redbus online bus booking service is excellent. Know all about it

Anonymous said... is nothing but a fraud. Sells reservations indiscriminately and never refunds. NEVER BOOK

Prabu P said...

Recent days the customer service become very Worst. Nobody is responding for the customer call. Please don't try by calling their customer care for any help and don't waste your Money.

Vishva Bhraman said...

Nice Post

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Vishva- Thanks

@Pradhu: Thanks for sharing your comment. I think it is true for all companies. As they grow exponentially, customer care is never given enough staff and importance to maintain same quality of service as earlier