Tamil Nadu – Pongal 2017 – Update

As part of our constant endeavor to improve the quality and safety of bus travel, time-to-time we weed-out those bus operators from redBus who do not meet certain quality and service standards leading to passenger dissatisfaction and poor customer ratings for these operators. Some of the operators who have not been able to meet these standards and hence been discontinued from our system have been recently indulging in false propaganda about bus operators not honoring redBus tickets. We would like to re-assure our users and reaffirm that ALL bus operators would honor tickets booked through redBus through the Pongal period and beyond. redBus continues to strive to improve the ecosystem of Bus travel for both bus operators and passengers.

redBus is a valued partner for us. All tickets sold on redBus would be honored by bus operators. And we support the initiatives taken by redBus in this instance to improve the quality of bus travel.” Mr. Afzal, President – TN Omni Bus operators association

We would also like to clarify that as an online marketplace for bus tickets, redBus does not set the prices for tickets and only displays the ticket fare set by bus operators. During festival season, there is a cap on maximum fares that is advised by the TN Omni Bus Operators Association in consultation with the Govt. of TN, which redBus strictly adheres to. In such cases, redBus does not display those bus operators whose fares are higher than the prescribed maximum.

Coverage in dailies: New Indian Express Dina Malar Daily Thanthi

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Security Update

On 17th October, we were made aware of a report that suggested redBus has suffered a data breach affecting the email addresses of some of our customers.

Based on our initial investigations, we have not been able to conclusively establish this data breach. We suspect though that a server storing logs may have been compromised, which contained some email addresses. We have not discovered any loss of password information at this time. Further, all our customers’ passwords are hashed and stored securely behind firewalls. We do not store payment details on any of our systems.

Even this server has recently been moved to a private network to strengthen its security.

redBus is committed to the highest level of security for all user information on all platforms. We have engaged security consultants to investigate this incident further. Purely as a precautionary measure, we recommend that our users change their passwords on their redBus accounts. We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused.


- Team redBus

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Project Bus Score

 “Customers often know more about your products than you do. Use them as a source of inspiration and ideas for product development.” – David J. Greer

Voice of the Customer

Every facet of every business decision taken in redBus is based on improving customer service. This is what keeps the party alive. The search results page, is our 2nd most important page, next only to our home page. This being our most prized real-estate – we place high emphasis on every detail: The loading speed, the caching methodology, the filter options, the design, the colour, the ease of use, the content format, the text size – All of these have evolved based on customer feedback and user studies. It is only natural that we show similar diligence in our sorting order.

The Sorting Hat of redBus

There are multiple ways to sort the search results and we give the customers the ability to sort the listings in the way they want to:

Filter by bus types | Sort by Departure Time | Sort by Price | Filter by Boarding Points | Filter by Offers Given | Filter by BO names | Filter by Amenities


The customer has the control to sort and filter as per his/her wish. This blog, though, is dedicated to discuss ‘Project Bus Score’.Sorting Hat

Bus Score is redBus’ effort to reflect the customer requirements in the default sort order of the search results.

What should be the default sort order for our search results:

By departure time?

By Price?

By Customer Ratings?

By Number of Customer Ratings?

By Time Taken?


Bus Score is intended to help in the sorting order, it is a comprehensive mix of the top 6 parameters our customers have highlighted to us.

For the sake of abbreviations we call this the 6 ‘R’s that constitute Bus Score:

Bus Score 6Rs

Parameter 1: Ratings (Provided by Customers)Customer Ratings

  1. This is the top attribute in Bus Score
  2. How have passengers rated that particular bus service?
  3. How many passengers have rated a service?
  4. How has the daily average rating for a service been?
  5. Why not just sort it by Average Rating?
  6. Which is better? A service with Average Rating 4.5/5 with 5 Reviews Vs. Average Rating 4.4/5 with 100 Reviews?

Parameter 2: Reliability of the Services

  1. How reliable is this service?
  2. Have there been cases of cancelling the service previously?
  3. Have there been complaints of passengers being stranded at the boarding point?
  4. Is the software integration with the Bus Operator stable so that there are no booking issues?

Parameter 3: ReasonabilityCancellation Policy

  1. How many days in advance is the chart opened?
  2. How customer friendly is the cancellation policy?
  3. Have there been cases of Duplicate listing? Thereby leading to customers not getting their chosen seat

Parameter 4: Responsiveness of the Bus Operator

  1. How has the bus operator responded to customer reviews/complaints?
  2. Has the Bus Operator launched any special offers for our customers?

Operator Offers - Top

Operator Offers - Detail

Parameter 5: Rates (Pricing)

  1. Is the service reasonably priced?
  2. For the given amenities, type of bus and time of departure, is the particular service overpriced or on par

Parameter 6: Resources (Amenities)Amenities-Top

  1. What are the amenities that the bus has?
  2. Does it have a ‘Track My Bus’ feature?
  3. Does it have a charging point? A blanket? Personalized TV? Snacks?
  4. Which are the most sought after amenities?


The idea is to showcase the best service upfront. As you can see, all the parameters are direct manifestations of customer service. This is what we have learned over multiple customer calls, customer feedback, user flow discussions and our most used features. Here is an example:

Sorting only on the basis of Ratings

Same Listing Sorted by Bus Score

 Ratings Sort  Bus Score Sort

Bus Score is a more balanced approach to customer requirements. Having a high average rating from only 10 ratings is easier compared to maintaining the same service quality over an extended period. You can see how the first listing has average of 4.7/5 from 6 reviews, whereas in Bus Score it is a service with 4.3/5 from 215 reviews!

The idea is to get the best service on the top and hence the sorting algorithm has to be comprehensive. All parameters captured in Bus Score calculation stem from the customer centricity of the Bus Service.

Forward and Further. Together.

This is a two way street. We need good bus operators to provide top quality service to our customers. We funnel this back to our Bus Operators: We tell them where they rank, what they can do better to improve their services. The intent is to pull-up the service standards of the entire industry.

What next?

Since the time we implemented Bus Score sorting, we’ve seen customers spend lesser time on choosing a service and proceeding to seat selection – A validation that our sort order helps customers identify their choice of service faster.

While we have started with Bus Score as the default sort for our top 50 routes, we’ll soon roll it out to the rest of the routes.

We’ve shared the feedback with Bus Operators on the overall journey, from customer feedback we’ve seen these are top amenities sought by customers:

Track My Bus | Charging Point | Wi-Fi | Water Bottle | Rest Stops | Snacks | Emergency Contact Numbers

Basis our feedback, operators have started adding better amenities in their services.

We’ll continue to work on our Bus Score sorting algorithm to reflect customer dynamics – The Customer preference for Delhi-Manali might be different from Hyderabad-Bangalore and the sorting algorithm will be tweaked to reflect that. This will continue to the effect that we come up with a personalized sorting order based on the preferences of each signed-in user.

In all this, it is key to understand that Bus Score is only the default sort order, the customers can sort or filter the results the way they want to. Bus Score is not shown as a separate filter to the user. That is just how we sort the results the first time it loads.

As always, we’ll continue to listen to customer inputs, please provide your comments.

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This refers to the online petition on Change.org  filed by Rashmi Bachani with an appeal to redBus for improving safety of women travelers during bus travel. We are really appreciative of Rashmi reaching out to us and for her feedback and suggestions. We also conducted extensive research with women bus travelers and delved deeper on some of the difficulties they face while travelling by bus.

Based on this research and the inputs provided by Rashmi and others, we are attempting to put together a comprehensive system for resolution of problems associated with safety of women travellers.

 We are looking at this from the perspective of : pre-travel (deterrence), during travel (emergency response) and post-travel (support and feedback)


GPS Enabled Buses / Live Tracking / Friends & Family feature

From the research that we conducted, we found that one of the places where women feel unsafe during their bus journey is before they board their bus while waiting for it to arrive.  The Track My Bus feature on redBus uses the GPS technology to pinpoint the location of the bus. With the help of this feature, the traveller can reach her boarding point on time rather than wait at the bus stop for long hours. The friends and family feature keeps the passenger’s chosen contacts informed about their whereabouts with exact, real-time location while they are on a journey. This feature was designed especially keeping in mind women’s safety.

We are collaborating with bus operators to enable their buses with GPS Tracking. Over 3,500 buses have been integrated with this system and we are trying our best to get to near universal adoption for this by all the bus operators.

CCTV Cameras

One of the other feedback that we received from women travellers was about potential harassment/misbehaviour by co-passengers. CCTV cameras are a strong deterrence mechanism for this kind of behaviour and also for addressing other safety concerns such as theft or staff misbehaviour. We are actively advising bus operators to adopt this technology and have started showing buses with CCTV cameras as an additional amenity on our platform.

CCTV (1).png

Staff Verification

We acknowledge the concern about ensuring background verification of driver and other staff on the bus.  redBus would augment the efforts of the bus operators in this direction and would step in to lead this effort where needed. We would positively influence the bus operators to do this on a continuous basis and also work closely with bus operator associations for sharing of information on blacklisted staff and to drive this agenda with their members. We would also look at the most appropriate manner of displaying this info to travellers booking their tickets on redBus.

Rest Stop Information

We understand that this is a basic need that needs to be addressed. Presently, there is no information of the Rest stop that is available for travellers booking their bus ticket. We have recently started showing this information for buses with GPS. Very soon, ratings of the Rest stop on parameters of Hygiene and Safety would be made available for passengers to make an informed choice. This would also prompt Bus operators to take this aspect seriously and enforce rest-stops at hygienic and safe locations.



During Travel

Driver Details

For many bus operators, the details of the driver/ bus staff are now being sent an hour or two prior to the journey to those of our passengers booked on that bus. We are engaged in scaling this up to include all bus operators and this is a top priority for us. Apart from the transparency that this brings, it also promotes safety by ensuring that correct and real-time information regarding bus arrival and boarding point address reaches the passengers.

Emergency Numbers

We have collated emergency contact of the responsible person from the bus operator’s end for all bus operators. This information would be sent out in an SMS to women travellers (prior to their journey). We are also encouraging bus operators to display this information prominently inside the bus. For this purpose, we have designed a communication poster/sticker with safety suggestions and emergency numbers including that of the bus operator. This communication will be available in English as well as local regional languages for the convenience of travellers.



Complaint handling

Based on feedback, we have added a category on Passenger safety in our complaints form. This category deals with all safety related issues and are immediately escalated to our customer service leadership for quick follow-up and action. Further, we have also taken steps to sensitize our staff to handle such complaints appropriately if they are raised to them over a call or email.



Feedback E-mailer

Going forward, we will be specifically reaching out to women travellers asking them to give us their feedback on their travel experience especially around safety and encourage them to bring up issues that they face during travel.

We believe that every passenger has a right to travel in a convenient, safe, and comfortable manner. The entire ecosystem needs to be come together to ensure that this mission is realised. And at redBus, we are committed to playing our part in this endeavour.

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Introducing ‘Rest Stop’ feature

A few weeks back we launched ‘Rest Stop’ feature on redBus to help you locate the rest stops at the push of a button. At redBus we work hard to make the journey a peaceful one for you and your loved ones. We realized that most of our travelers are bothered about where their bus stops for food or rest-room breaks, but that they just don’t find this data anywhere. We thought we will solve the problem with the help of buses with live tracking – this will help travelers discover ‘Rest Stops’ through their journey

Now hop into the bus and relax!

Before booking the bus:

1. Make sure you look forrest_stop_iconicon on the bus search results page

2. Click on the link and you will get a page with the ‘Rest Stop’ details


3. Note the details for time of arrival of ‘Rest Stop’ and plan your break ahead of time


We are excited to launch this and we will continue to help make the journey as convenient as possible for redBus travelers. A regular redBus traveler Venkatesh says “Now I can plan my trip ahead of time when it comes to kids needing a break for dinner or using rest rooms, kudos to redBus for making this happen“. More to come very soon. Stay tuned!








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Swachh Data – redBus Style

“Without a systematic way to start and keep data clean, bad data will happen.”

Fun Fact: Being only the 7th largest country, India still has the 2nd largest road network in the world.

‘Not so fun’ fact: Unlike in trains or flights, where passengers can board and alight at designated stations or airports, bus stations can crop up anywhere on our massive road network.

With buses connecting 90% of Indian cities, the number of boarding and dropping points for buses operates on a scale which comes close to the number of pincodes in the country.

This leads to a nightmarish experience for travelers trying to choose a boarding point/dropping point, especially for those who are traveling to a new city.  In Hyderabad, seemingly similar location names like “Lingampalli” and “Bagh Lingampalli” are in reality 24 kms apart.


Each bus operator has his/her own naming convention of a boarding point. For e.g. Kempegowda Bus stand is also known as Majestic Bus stand. Some bus operators may use abbreviations and call it as K.B.S instead.

The problem is compounded by the fact that, redBus has more than 70 different software integration to pool in data from 1800 bus operators, covering 67,000+ routes  and serving 3,000+ cities. Add to this, the nuances in naming conventions – a place like Bangalore had 25,000+ boarding point names!

Before we decided to draft a process to handle this problem, there were 300 permutations of BTM Layout (an area in Bangalore) alone!

For e.g, Bangalore’s Boarding Points before the clean-up:

Bangalore - Before Cleanup                    Bangalore-2-Before Cleanup

For a customer to filter out bus services based on Boarding points in an area like BTM Layout or Jaya Nagar was a near impossible task.


We needed two things:

1. List of all valid boarding points in all the cities: the Grid-list

2. Process to map any boarding point configured by the Bus Operators to one item on the Grid-List

With the help of text clustering and local knowledge of our inventory on-boarding team, we have a grid list of all valid boarding points in a city. This now is the reference grid-list – sanitized and geo-tagged.

For the second leg, the process developed at redBus ensures that as and when a new boarding point is configured by an operator, it is automatically mapped to an existing boarding point in the grid-list thereby ensuring clean data. This is tricky, given how unstructured the boarding point naming conventions can be and the data can flow in from any of the 70 different software integration.

The mapping algorithm uses a weighted approach including SoundEx, Split Minima, Reverse Matching, Grep Scan, Naives Bayes Classifier (and other statistics jargon to confuse the reader :))

With this, we were able to automate the mapping of boarding/dropping points with 99% accuracy. Bus operators constantly commission (and decommission) new services – thereby adding new boarding point names. During any given week, for the top 6 cities, we have around 2000 new additions to the boarding and dropping point names. Automating the algorithm is the only way to maintain data sanity. The support team takes care of the un-mapped points (remember, the algo checks out 99% of the cases).

For the top 10 cities alone, we were able to map 200,000 boarding Points to 750 unique geo-tagged ones.


After the cleanup of redundant boarding points, this is how the boarding point selection list looks like:

Bangalore Post Update 1                    Bangalore BP Post 2

This is the snapshot of the process we have used to handle Boarding and Dropping point geo-tagging.


With this being an ongoing exercise, we now have the process and the technology to keep the data clean.

More power to redBus customers!

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Hotel Website Flow Redesign – Part 3

This is 3rd in our series of posts on Hotel Website Flow Redesign. The previous posts are here:

  1. Hotel Website Flow Redesign – Part 1
  2. Hotel Website Flow Redesign – Part 2

While we designed a fluid and seamless flow, our engineers built the entire funnel on a new tech stack and consuming new APIs. Aligning to our previously stated goal of building a web flow that is performant and scalable, we wanted to address the following things through our new tech stack:

  • Search Results should be fast
  • Filters in action
  • Caching of our meta-data

Old Architecture
The old architecture was not built for this and as mentioned it was just a hack :).

old architecture

There were multiple issues with this:

  • Our Website and API were on the same project and not scalable if we had to provide this for other channels / platforms to consume
  • We were making calls over internet to partner API’s to fetch our search results which was slow
  • Iterations and updates used to take a while due to tight coupling of WEB and API
  • Whenever our Partner API’s changed their contract, it had a downstream effect and we had to make changes at our layers as well

New Architecture
The new architecture was built keeping in mind the goals (Speed and Scale) we initially formulated

new architecture
The broad ingredients of the new architecture were:

  • Website – Node.js application running on Ubuntu server with 4GB RAM
  • API – Web API, .NET application running on Windows IIS with 4GB RAM
  • NEO4J Graph Database – our cache layer running on Ubuntu server with 8GB RAM
  • Backbone – JavaScript MVC framework
  • Backbone-super-sync – https://github.com/artsy/backbone-super-sync
    • Built-in request caching
    • Auto handing of request time outs
  • Gulp – Earlier we were using Grunt for most of our minifying activities and compiling needs. Gulp has been widely adopted as the rigorous configuration files required in grunt is handled better here. We chose Gulp for these reasons:
    • Streaming and concatenation of configuration is much easier here
    • Now Grunt supports this but at that point of time it was not able
    • We also use Gulp for deployment using a plug-in called ‘diff’. The advantage here only the delta goes to the server and not the entire published code
  • Handlebar – Our view engine for node. The number of utilities available here are awesome compared to a lot of other systems. The templates created are easily shared across client and server. This is one of the biggest advantage when you would have a lot of SEO pages where server side rendering is required
  • Dust – Our view engine which supports streaming. One of the reasons for our search results to be faster is because of this. As we stream the data, we send this to HandleBar
  • Hemlet – gives a good wrapper around the HTTP Headers
  • Knex – Our SQL wrapper / ORM to interface with our MySQL database.
  • Isomorphic concept – This is an Isomorphic application coded in JavaScript that can run both on client and on the server. This way we can execute it in server to render SEO friendly static pages and the same set of scripts can be reused to build more user interactive experience in client side
  • Maps: Integration between Four Square and Map Box
    • Map Box – Used themes here. Wanted to spice it up
    • Four Square – Crowd sourced and has more information compared to Google Maps
  • Icons to Font – All the amenities in our SRP is now fonts. This reduces the overall size of download. We reduced it from 130KB to 11KB
  • PM2 – Our server monitoring
  • Recommendations – We also built a simple recommendation algorithm based on attribute matching. We basically build our recommendation cache every day and this gets served via an API. The recommendation cache is stored in REDIS


Google Page Speed Insights Report


More Details
Recommendation Logic

We also built a simple recommendation algorithm based on attribute matching. We basically build our recommendation cache every day and this gets served via an API. The recommendation cache is stored in REDIS. Recommendation for each hotel is computed in broadly these steps:

  • Hotel details is fetched from Neo4j cache and are segregated city-wise
  • Each hotel is compared with every other hotel in the city and a score is computed by taking into consideration various attributes between them
  • Top 50 recommendations for each hotel is determined based on the score computed and stored in Redis cache.

We have a good recommendation score built for over 20000 hotels. We have plans to do more once we link to bus and personalization and capture more data as well.

Neo4J Cache
Our caching framework not only needed to provide quick look ups but also query and join other data elements. The amount of data stored was also relatively huge and our expectation is it would grow big as we scale. Keeping this in mind, our initial set of caching frameworks we shortlisted were:

  • Memcache
  • Neo4j

We hadn’t tried Neo4J earlier to this in any of our production systems. REDIS and Memcache is vastly used across various teams at redBus. With REDIS, we have done some really cool stuff, but our pain point with REDIS was always secondary indexes. Also, with a key-value store concept in REDIS, it is very hard to build relationships with KEYS alone. Looking at our Hotel Data that needed to be cached – at a broad level it encompassed:

  • Cities
  • DOJ
  • Hotel Information, amenities and other meta-data
  • Ratings, Image URLS and curated content

Neo4j fit the bill really well here as it solves these problems – secondary indexes and foreign-keys (called relationships in GraphDB). To understand more about Ne04j, please check here

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Hotel Website Flow Redesign – Part 2

This is 2nd in our series of posts on Hotel Website Flow Redesign. The previous post is here: Hotel Website Flow Redesign – Part 1

With these goals in mind and armed with a high-level user flow, we decided to meet a few users to test it out. We initially thought of inviting users to redBus office and study their behavior but later felt meeting them at a casual place will bring out real observations. We thus head out to meet users and test our design flow. We were amazed by the enthusiasm as well as the feedback we received from the users! They were quite happy that redBus chose them for the research and were more than willing to meet us, and helped us understand the hotel booking process according to a user  and also reviewed the user flow we had. The study helped us understand the choice of our customers and the flow they preferred. For instance, users did not prefer a map-based view of hotel search list on desktop. Users wanted to see hotel images more than hotel description. They wanted to know if a given hotel has free cancellation policy and other amenities.userstudy1



We wanted our users to go out more, travel more and enjoy more. We also probed users to understand what prompts them to travel. We iterated on our designs multiple times based on the feedback we received from our peers, users,  as well as the latest design trends, and travel trends.

Interaction & Visual Design

We also felt that the current redBus website design would not satisfy the demands of hotel and holiday categories as it would be too cluttered if presented with the current website.  A more visually intense and vibrant flow is what we wanted. We thus took a number of steps like to create a flat design. Some of the steps that we took are:

  • We did away with the existing white header and moved to a red header with a white logo.
  • We provided a larger space for the background header image on the home page for us to play with different themes utilizing imagery, video, and illustrations.
  • We chose to move the filters on the top and put more emphasis on the search results to help us give us  give the scope to iterate on design of search results. We still felt a map-view based search, if shown in the right way, can provide a compelling search experience to a user!
  • Since users wanted to view images of hotels before deciding on it, we placed more emphasis on hotel images on the hotel details page.
  • For the booking details page, we believed that an accordion styled experience makes sense for the user as it enables faster and seamless booking experience

Even after all these, we still feel that we barely scratched the surface! We believe there is still lot of room to personalize the booking experience especially for redBus target segment. We will continue to iterate and bring out products and design changes that will make the users go “WOW!”

To be contd..

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Hotel Website Flow Redesign – Part 1

redBus Hotels began in the year 2013 as a quick hack to validate the need of accommodation for bus travellers. We primarily wanted to target audience who visited the redBus website for bus bookings and may also require accommodation to stay. We saw great traction as we continue to see a good uptake of customer bookings in terms of room per nights. This prompted us to take a closer look at our customer behaviour and to provide an amazing booking experience. The hack done was patched at different places for some quick wins and was not scalable. It also accumulated a lot of technical overhead. Thus  began the story of revamping our hotels booking flow!

On Dec 9th we launched our new hotels experience on redbus.in/hotels. Customers loved the new UI experience! Friends and acquaintances gave thumbs up to the flow and we also got feedback on how it can be improved further. In our upcoming posts,  we will go behind the scenes and tell you all that we went through while designing the new hotel experience.

When we set out to revamp our hotels website flow, we brainstormed over areas / themes we wanted to focus upon. We looked at competitive benchmarks, industry analysis, primary user research, as well as new UI trends to understand the direction in which we wanted to move. We broadly wanted to cover these following themes:

  • Inspire the user to travel (Seeing the flow)
  • Maintain a consistent and pleasing design language throughout the flow
  • Build a flow that is optimized for performance and scale, as well as other new features

Our primary target audience segment was focused on business travellers in the age group of 25-40, who travel regularly via  bus or train to nearby cities and towns. We figured that the  primary travel purpose is usually one or more of these – Sales, Business Development, and Payment Collection etc. He is, however, also interested in exploring the place if he has free time. With these goals in mind and armed with a high-level user flow, we decided to meet a few users to test it out.

To be contd..

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Travel safe with redBus

Thousands of travelers trust redBus everyday for a hassle free ticket booking experience. Ensuring higher standards of travel safety is one key aspect that we, at redBus, are committed towards.

While traveling, most Indian travelers are connected over the phone with their family, mostly sharing location updates. In bus travel, this becomes tougher in areas with limited coverage area. As a result, the family feels anxious about their loved one’s safety. In a survey, 75% of our female travelers mentioned that the when traveling, they would feel safer if their family member were aware of their location. So we took this feedback and developed a safety feature that uses the live bus tracking capability of redBus to help families feel safer about bus travel. Here is a story of how one of our customer made use of the feature.

Ms. Divya was traveling home for the weekend and was traveling alone. Her family was worried about her safety and her parents wanted to pick her at the dropping point. Ms. Divya decided that she would book a bus with Live Bus Tracking option available at redbus. At the ticket confirmation page, she added her mother’s number as the emergency contact number.

12 3

30 minutes before her journey, redBus sent an sms to her mother with her bus number and a link to track her bus. When her mother tapped on that link, redBus showed her critical information such as Divya’s Bus Number, estimated delay, and the upcoming landmarks. Divya’s family could even see the exact location of her bus on a map.


During Divya’s journey, her parents knew exactly where her bus had reached. This way they also reached the dropping point at the right time to pick her up. Divya had a relaxed travel experience and she had a

wonderful weekend at home!

So for your next journey, try out our safety feature and share your experience with us! We are listening! :)

*This feature is currently only available for the Android and iOS app.

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