'Rafting' Your Way Through Chennai

Raft, a public transport mobile app for commuters in the city lists multiple route options, mapping 6,000 bus stops and 1,500 bus routes

Published: 20th April 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th April 2015 10:22 AM   |  A+A-

With a 4.4 rating on Google Play Store, Raft, a public transport mobile app for Chennai, is making the lives of commuters easier by mapping over 6,000 bus stops and 1,500 bus routes in the city. Developed by IIT-M graduates Siddharth Krishnaswamy, Krishna Chaitanya and Akhilesh Koppineni, Raft provides up-to-date timings of MTC buses and local trains.

“Our main aim is to reduce the waiting time of commuters. We have a dedicated team on the ground that enables us to collect up-to-date information and bring reliable information to our users,” says Siddharth. The app was launched in December last year and has had more than 10,000 downloads on Play Store.

Rafting1.jpgWhen asked what Raft had on offer that Google Maps didn’t, he says, “Google Maps specifically caters to personal riders. The timings and stop locations may not be updated. For example, recently MTC buses changed 50 routes. Collecting such information is an arduous task. Also, loading maps in most apps slows down the mobile.”

Raft is only 3MB in size and the battery consumed is minimal. One can see multiple route options between two stops on the same expanded result page. Raft allows users to share their journey details, like the bus or local train one is travelling in and the expected time of arrival. You can also toggle between multiple modes of public transport like MTC, local trains and MRTS.

It combines different bus and local train options along the same path and simplifies route choices. There is also an option of setting ‘favourite places’ in the app. It also works on a 2G connection, adds Siddharth.

Among the buses that the app covers are MTC White Board Ordinary Services, Green Board Express Services, MTC Small Bus Express Services, MTC Air Conditioned Services, Non-Stop and Point-to-Point (PP) Services, Day Services and General Services, Night Halt (NH) and Night Services (NS), and Suburban Railway (EMU, MRTS Line and local train Lines).

“Users’ feedback has been very encouraging. We plan to provide real time information soon. If a bus is delayed due to traffic, commuters should be able to know,” he says, adding that they need a critical mass of users to crowd-source this project. The trio first approached the incubation cell at IIT-M and got support from faculty members — Prof Lalitha Devi who teaches Transportation Engineering and Prof Shankar Ram who teaches Engineering Design.

Co-founders of a startup based out of IIT-M Research Park, Siddharth, Krishna and Akhilesh have a team of 10 working on Raft, their first product. “We plan to take this to five or six cities. Raft will also cover Chennai Metro Rail services once it is launched,” he says.

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