Indian metros are fast getting overpopulated by humans and vehicles and posing a challenge to comfortable and environment-friendly mobility for citizens. This is also contributing to deterioration in air quality and destruction of green cover.

Everybody agrees that the one way to combat these issues is by getting our act together on the public transport front through large-scale local train and bus networks.

To address this and make technology interventions bring relief, earlier in the year, the World Resources Institute (WRI) India Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, with support from transportation company FedEx Express (subsidiary of FedEx Corp.), announced an open innovation contest to nudge individuals and organisations to find innovative solutions to enhance the public bus system.

The response apparently was good, with pitches coming in from bus manufacturers, technology and service providers, mobility entrepreneurs, non-government organisations and electric vehicle manufacturers.

3 best options

From the expert short-list, three best solutions emerged winners. These included an innovation by Mumbai-based Cityflo, which pitched an on-demand bus aggregator that provides customers with the opportunity to reserve seats on air-conditioned buses in the city through their mobile application, at competitive prices. The company focusses on supplementing the services provided by city service BEST to improve access and comfort for the public.

The second winner is Cell Propulsion, which provides a proprietary power train technology that can be retrofitted into buses to fully convert them to electric power. The company provides ARAI certified electric conversion kits that can be retrofitted on all buses.

The third is from Small Spark Concepts which has pitched its patent pending product MAFiA that helps reduce pollution levels and improve the combustion efficiency of buses. The product, retrofitted on existing vehicle fleets, can reduce fuel demand and tailpipe emissions.

The winners were taken through a four-day accelerator programme in Bengaluru, which provided them hand-holding from experts in the fields of business, design, marketing, finance and investment to take forward their proposed solutions, and tailor them to suit the needs of Indian cities.

For this, each winner will receive a financial grant of $50,000 to demonstrate their projects with a pilot in the identified Indian city. The grant will be supplemented with mentorship from WRI India. “Over the next year, the winning companies will work closely with the transit agencies to contextualise the solutions to the specific needs of their pilot cities and demonstrate the impact of their solutions on improving the efficiency, access and quality of commute for all,” sums up Madhav Pai, Director of WRI India. Our Bureau