Homegrown ride-hailing major Ola has acquired end-to-end public transport ticketing app Ridlr in an all-stock deal at an undisclosed valuation as it looks at integrating its own services with mass transit infrastructure that exists in cities.
Through the acquisition, Ola is looking at building a seamless experience for commuters who use its service in conjunction with transit services such as buses, trains, and metro. The motive is to allow a customer to book a cab from their homes and continue their journey effortlessly even if they switch to a public transport service.
“Public transportation serves millions of Indians every day, and powering these needs with real-time information, mobile ticketing, cashless payments, and reliable services is bound to impact their end experience. The challenge really is to make the entire ecosystem inclusive and robust for all,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Ola.
Ridlr, which was founded in 2012 has been able to work with BEST, and Mumbai and Delhi Metro services to allow ticketing and other conveniences such as real-time tracking. While the firm has run several pilots in other cities, it has found it hard to expand its service to more than two or three transport operators.
Here’s where Ola’s muscle can also come in as the company already partners with several mass transit companies across the country to enable cab booking zones for the ease of commuters. The success of the idea will lie in Ola being able to convince public transport utilities to let it track their buses or trains in real-time and allow smart ticketing through its app.
This might not even be that hard considering it’s fast becoming a mandate for public utilities to modernise under different schemes such as the government’s Smart Cities mission. Real-time tracking and mobile payments are being considered and tested by several state-run transport services like Bengaluru’s BMTC which says it will even considering offering an API to developers.
“We have been offering end-to-end mass transit solutions to Indians, making their daily commute seamless across different public transportation modes. Ola, on the other hand, has made deep in-roads in the realm of urban mobility through its smart ridesharing solutions. By joining forces with Ola, we are delighted to become part of an evolved ecosystem,” said Brijraj Vaghani, founder of Ridlr.
Ridlr, which has raised around $6 million so far is said to have been struggling to raise more funds and the sale to Ola was in part brokered by Matrix Partners which is an investor in both companies. Livemint, which had first reported of a possible merger last month said that it was a distress sale.
In a statement on Tuesday announcing the deal, Ola said that the 64 employees of Ridlr will join Ola and that Vaghani will continue to lead the operations at the Mumbai-based startup. Ola did not share more details of when we could see an integration of the two services or how many more public transport utilities would come online with Ridlr.
Globally, several companies are working on a similar idea of integrating last-mile cab connectivity with public transport systems and even personal cars. Ford, Google, Daimler and several other companies are looking at services that integrate ride hailing with mass transit as cities across the world push for decongestion of roads.