A disorderly process of acquiring travel tickets, time wasted at the terminal waiting for the transport company to find other travelers to fill up the bus, and an inconsistent ticket pricing system are some of the problems that travelers encounter at the bus terminals whenever they travel around Nigeria. Unlike Nigeria’s aviation industry where airline operators have largely adopted technology in providing their services, road transport companies still operate mostly manual processes at their terminals which results in poor service delivery and high operational costs.
A digital transport company in Lagos is seeking to provide solutions to these problems faced by both travelers and the transport companies. In 2018, a group of young Nigerians with several years of experience in the European aviation space (Airbus and Lufthansa) launched the first digital end-to-end service solution for the road transportation sector in Nigeria. This project they called “Travel 4.0” as they’ve largely drawn inspiration from the on-going European digitalization drive under the name “Industrie 4.0”.
Travel 4.0, or T40 as it is commonly called, has two product offerings for the Nigerian road transportation sector which include a global distribution system (GDS-based) online ticketing solution and an on-board entertainment system (OBES). T40’s GDS is a ticket booking and payment platform that allows travelers to search for trips and to compare fare prices from different transport companies, as well as to make cashless payments in advance of a trip.
The GDS offers rate comparisons, ticket reservations, and payments, as well as access to trip schedules and inventories. Through the platform, private and public transport companies can have their ride information online and in one place when they add them to T40’s distribution network. Through the GDS, T40 looks to provide online travel agents (OTAs) with inventory access via their available APIs, thereby simplifying the setup and management of an OTA for bus tickets.
The primary goal of T40 is to apply modern innovation methods and technological tools in the delivery of transportation services in order to improve the overall experience for all participating stakeholders such as passengers, transport operators, and regulators. T40 continues to believe that providing safe, timely, reliable, pleasurable, cost-efficient, and climate-sustaining transportation services is achievable in Nigeria through the application of modern tools & technology.
How T40’s GDS works
Upon agreement for a partnership with a transport service provider, an account is created for the operator on the GDS listing all the routes that the operator plies across Nigeria. A traveler can then search for and book a trip with an operator on T40, who receives a notification of payment for the trip. When the payment has been made, the traveler is issued a receipt that is sent to their desired email address and can be used to check-in at the terminal on their scheduled day of travel. T40 gets a small commission from the sale of the tickets.
According to T40 founder, Folarin Olulana, the platform offers a win-win situation for both travelers and operators. For travelers, he notes that they can experience no stress of queuing up to purchase travel tickets and get good deals for trips from operators offering competitive fare prices. Also with the GDS, travelers can now be able to access trip schedules and inventories from the comfort of their homes.
For operators, Folarin says the benefits of the platform include increased service reach, improved service delivery, reduced operational costs, better cash handling, improved customer management, increased turnover, and the opportunity to gain a competitive edge over competitors. Currently, operators signed onto the platform include AKTC and ChiFaith Motors offering rides across parts of Nigeria.
T40’s competitors include Emytrip and oya.com.ng. However, they plan to stand out from the competition through the offering of their OBES to transport companies that sign on to their platform at a small cost. The OBES provides connectivity to the passengers which allows them access to stream multiple videos uploaded on the media environment. The self-funded startup hopes that this revenue model would support its expansion plans in the coming months.