Rally OurBus is shaking things up in the US bus industry
Views and perspectives from the founders of Rally OurBus
The US bus industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 1900s. Today, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that plays a vital role in our economy and transportation system. But what does the future hold? According to the cofounders of Rally OurBus — Numaan Akram, CEO, and Narinder Singh, COO — it won’t be anything like what’s gone before.
Rally and OurBus began architecting their merger in 2019, to create what is now America’s largest bus technology startup. Together, they have transported millions of riders to and from thousands of destinations across the country. Together they’re defining the often overlooked mobility sector of middle-mile transportation (40 to 400 miles).
In this interview, Numaan and Narinder share their thoughts on some of the pressing challenges facing the industry and how they are changing the way we think about and use buses.
Word is that the bus industry has been stagnant for some time. Would you agree?
Narinder: Stagnant may not be the right word, but legacy bus companies have taken riders for granted. They have been reluctant to adopt a more customer-centric, technology-led approach, and their hesitancy has opened up opportunities for us to serve that need. People want a seamless experience when traveling by bus, they want to be reassured that someone’s got their back. And we certainly do.
Numaan: The bus industry is quite vibrant. People ride buses all the time. In fact, the US bus industry moves 580 million passengers annually, about 2/3rd as much as airlines do. But buses remain an afterthought. We want to change that by keeping our technology and services laser-focused on what riders want. We’re making it easier for them to book a ride, get the assistance they need, and enjoy a comfortable journey.
What are some of the advantages Rally OurBus enjoys over other companies in the sector?
Narinder: For starters, we don’t own any assets, like buses. We are a technology platform, and that immediately gives us a competitive edge over traditional players who own massive fleets of vehicles, which need to be managed and generate revenue. Being asset-lite keeps us nimble, and enables us to focus on optimizing routes according to rider demand.
Numaan: We should also remember that the bus industry isn’t just the one or two big brands that have been around forever. There are thousands of small fleet owners, mom-and-pop businesses, some of whom own maybe 1-10 buses. They are hard-working entrepreneurs, with a commendable work ethic, and we are making our technology and expertise available to them as partners. In some sense, we are here to level the playing field to help the smaller operators compete like the larger bus companies, ultimately helping the industry serve more riders.
We are coming out of the pandemic-enforced travel restrictions. How did you deal with that challenge and what does the immediate future hold?
Numaan: Like every other company in the travel industry, we too had moments of uncertainty to deal with over the last two years. But we had and continue to have unwavering faith in our technology and what we want to achieve together. We have supported our bus operators through this time, and that’s paying off. 2022 was a landmark year for us… we traveled to more destinations, carried more riders than ever before. Thanksgiving, which is our busiest time of the year, was incredible too. The volume we handled, and how we handled it was encouraging. Fans came back to stadiums, events saw record crowds, and we were with them.
2023 looks even more promising with big ticket artists like Taylor Swift going on tour. America is well and truly back on the move again, and we are excited to travel with them.
Narinder: Couldn’t agree more. We launched several new intercity lines in 2022, and the demand was off the charts. It’s a path we intend to continue on this year as well. There’s a renewed focus on building partnerships with local businesses and creating a travel experience for our riders that goes beyond just the bus ride. And the ride itself is evolving. We are adding new amenities, tweaking features in our apps to make things easier for riders, and exploring new ways to incentivize them to ride a bus when they travel.
What message does Rally OurBus have for the industry?
Narinder: Well, this ride is only picking up speed. We are growing, and I want to welcome operators and partners to join us. This is an inclusive ecosystem we are building, enabled by technology and powered by an ever-improving customer experience. We are adding more lines, more seats, and putting more riders on those seats. And you know what, there’s more coming.
Numaan: We are changing how people see and use buses just the way Uber changed how we thought about taxis. And buses are the greenest form of transportation. Not only are we helping people travel more comfortably and save money, but we are also reducing their carbon footprint. The journey to a better, greener and more equitable future has already begun. So let’s get there together!