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Home Startups Kenya’s BuuPass launches an online bus booking service for East Africa

Kenya’s BuuPass launches an online bus booking service for East Africa

by Sam Wakoba
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Kenya’s BuuPass, a marketplace for bus, shuttle, and train bookings has today announced it has fully integrated M-PESA mobile payments as it unveils its online bus booking service after several months in pilot.

BuuPass, formerly MagicBus says the new online service will help travelers in the country to book and purchase bus tickets from five bus operators including Easy Coach, Modern Coast, Greenline, Palmers and East African Shuttles.

BuuPass looks to onboard more than 20 additional operators by the end of the year. Customers can also access the service by dialing *877# and at buupass.com with payments accepted through M-PESA.

BuuPass is not the first one to do this as BookNow tried it and failed but we hope it succeeds where others failed. BookNow struggled to amass volumes for its business as most of this bus companies have social media pages and websites with contact numbers and allow users to book for tickets on phone and pay via M-PESA. But BuuPass might have found a better way around this.

“This partnership with BuuPass seeks to extend the convenience of M-PESA by empowering our customers to book a bus ticket wherever they may be and at their luxury. We further see a prospect in linking bus companies to opportunities by providing them with a solution to manage customer ticketing and cashless payments,” said Rita Okuthe, Chief Enterprise Business Officer, Safaricom.

Through the app, customers can select a bus operator, preferred travel date and time, and reserve specific seat numbers.  Customers can also reserve seats for multiple travelers, with tickets printed at the bus station after presentation of the confirmation SMS.

“We are glad to partner with Safaricom to provide travelers with an easy and flexible solution to book and manage their journey. Our platform similarly provides bus companies with a bus and parcel management system where they can manage their fleet, have control over their operational costs, and effectively reach more travelers and in turn sell more seats through our marketplace,” said Sonia Kabra, Co-founder and Director – BuuPass.  

The service seeks a slice of the local inter-city transport industry estimated to be worth more than KES 100 billion annually but which is also characterized by low uptake of technology and digital solutions. The two firms have been working on the bus ticketing solution for more than a year and have already sold more than 80,000 tickets across more than 100 routes.

Some of the most popular destinations among travelers include Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Migori and Bondo.

Safaricom and BuuPass have similarly partnered on the online booking platform for Standard Gauge Railway. This new partnership could not just be about a Lipa Na M-PESA and USSD feature as sources close to the deal say BuuPass has received an undisclosed seed funding from Safaricom’s SPARK Fund. BuuPass is not a new startup in the market but changed its name from Magic Bus Ticketing in order to be more locally relevant and name conflicted with another company.

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