There has been a major surge in intercity bus ticket bookings ahead of Diwali, indicating a recovery in travel sentiment, according to online bus ticketing platform redBus.

The platform has witnessed a high volume of intercity bus ticket bookings that had begun 15 days prior to Diwali. Bus operators are expecting to transport over 39 lakh passengers ahead of the festival.

“About 1,900+ Private Bus Operators and 17 State Regional Transport Corporations are gearing up to cater to the year’s peak travel days by running around 40,000 daily services, through which they are expected to transport 39 lakh passengers, across a cumulative distance of 47 crore kilometres during the Diwali week,” the platform said in an official release.

Highest demand from Chennai

Data from redBus indicates that the travel route between Chennai and Madurai is the most popular bus route, for Diwali. It also indicates that the highest demand for travel is coming from Chennai across India.

The top ten routes in terms of bookings are Chennai-Madurai, Bengaluru-Hyderabad, Vijayawada-Hyderabad, Pune-Nagpur, Visakhapatnam-Hyderabad, Chennai-Coimbatore, Delhi-Gorakhpur, Asansol-Kolkata, Burdwan-Kolkata and Durgapur-Kolkata

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According to the report, nearly 60 per cent of the current bookings are for travel within States while 40 per cent bookings are for inter-State travel; 58 per cent of the current bookings have been made for air-conditioned buses. A majority of the current bookings on the platform are for travel to Tier 2+ cities.

“An interesting trend from the beginning of the festive season has been a surge in travel to tier 2 and 3 cities and towns, resulting in their contributing 80 per cent of current bookings (up from 65 per cent last year), a clear indication that a majority of the people are travelling to their home towns during the festival,” redBus said.

The top 5 States with the highest demand for travel are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat.

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Safety protocols

With bus bookings surging, the primary concern for operators and travellers is safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic. A majority of customers are switching to online bookings as bus operators gear up to maintaining safety protocols.

“We are experiencing a big recovery in travel sentiment as many travellers are making the journey to their home towns for Diwali,” Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus, said.

“Usually the festive season with Eid, Dussehra and Diwali is a peak travel period and in this difficult year that has witnessed many travel restrictions due to Covid-19, it is extremely encouraging to see the festive season contributing towards the revival in travel. As bus travellers look to resume travelling after the complete lifting of all restrictions, redBus and our bus operator partners are committed to providing them with a safe and comfortable travel experience. We expect intercity bus travel to remain in demand for the rest of the festive season and beyond as bus travel steadily returns to normalcy,” Sangam added.