Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, with support from FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company and a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), announced the “Better Bus Challenge”, a competition to augment the quality, safety and efficiency of public bus systems in India. The open innovation challenge will bring together ideas from manufacturers, technology and service providers, mobility entrepreneurs, NGOs, corporations, and transit agencies to co-create solutions in the public bus sector.
With around 70 million people traveling on buses, state-run public bus providers play an essential role in connecting people in cities across India. Transit agencies, who operate the public bus networks across India, carry more than 60% of the road passengers, competing with alternate mobility solutions that operate on-demand, and can offer greater comfort and service quality.
Highlighting the need and importance of public bus systems in India, Dr. O.P. Agarwal, CEO, WRI India, said, “By 2021, it is estimated that India will need around 650,000 buses to cater to its transit needs. There is a need for decision- makers to broaden their perspective of urban transportation beyond traditional models to identify and implement strategies to meet this ever-growing demand in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner.”
The challenge will address one of three categories: Operations Management and Efficiency, New Service Models, and Commuter Experience. The ‘Better Bus Challenge’ will offer the top three solutions a financial award of USD 50,000 or INR 32,00,000 each. The cash reward will be supplemented with a year-long mentorship to collaborate with transit agencies to design and implement solutions which cater to the needs of cities. Champions in the transit agencies will manage the year-long demonstration projects, and help measure their impact with the support from WRI India Ross Center.
FedEx and WRI India Ross Center have worked together over the last seven years to assist cities in improving public transportation by addressing issues such as service quality, and fleet and fuel selection and training. Globally, the collaboration has helped nearly five million daily transit users, trained more than 9,000 transit professionals, and reduced 63,908 tons of CO2 emissions.
“We believe that the more connected a community is, the more it thrives. We are excited to support the launch of the 'Better Bus Challenge’ and believe that this unique platform will encourage stakeholders to create innovative solutions for the public bus transit system in India, making it more affordable, accessible and sustainable for everyone,” said Jack Muhs, president, FedEx Express Middle East, Indian subcontinent and Africa.
FedEx support for this project is part of the FedEx Cares initiative, under which FedEx has committed to invest $200 million in more than 200 communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver positive change around the world.
“In India, public bus transport is the backbone for two-thirds of commuters, connecting them to jobs, schools, health care and places of economic opportunity,” said Amit Bhatt, director, Integrated Transport, WRI India. “By bolstering their service with innovative technology, transit agencies can make public bus services more efficient, accessible and comfortable for all.”