A young man from Kisoro has digitized bus travel in Uganda.

As a cereal middleman, Mutebi traverses different parts of Uganda looking for farmers that can meet his supply needs. “I travel every two weeks. Going to the bus station to book tickets was taking too much of my time.” The trader says shifting his body weight from one leg to the other.

A friend introduced him to Ugabus an online bus booking platform that he has fully embraced.

“Now it’s much easier. I book my tickets using the Ugabus application on my phone,” he says.

Ugabus was founded out of an unfortunate situation. Ronald Hakiza, its co-founder lost money to a conman at a bus station after arriving late and booking a ticket in haste to go to his village.

During the journey, the bus conductor informed him that his ticket was fake, and he was asked to get off the bus or pay the fare once again which he did.

Upon returning to Kampala Hakiza was determined to find a solution to this problem. He knew he was not the first traveler to be conned by unscrupulous persons at bus stations. After brainstorming with a few of his friends, the team came up with a rudimentary phone call-based system of selling genuine bus tickets to their friends. When the numbers became overwhelming, Ronald knew they had to find a more efficient way of selling the tickets. The large number of tickets they were selling also showed him he was onto something.

Because it was not sustainable to book large volumes of tickets over the phone, the team developed a mobile application which transferred the entire booking procedure to the client.

There are two unique selling points that Ugabus offers clients. The first is convenience because clients can book their tickets from anywhere at any time. The second is the fraud deterring feature which protects clients from being conned.

Currently, more than 73% of Ugandan bus routes have been covered by Ugabus and thousands of tickets are sold using the application or the company’s website. Additionally, routes out of Uganda into other East African countries have been added thereby increasing the reach of the firm.

As ticket booking increasingly embraces the digital format, Ugabus is primed to become the largest player using technology making travel hassle-free and convenient. For payment, clients have the option of paying for their tickets using mobile money or the Ugabus wallet. As a bonus, clients are given ticket discounts and cashback incentives to spur more use of the firm’s digital ticketing service.

During the festive season, travel in Uganda becomes very expensive. Bus companies double and sometimes triple the bus fare as more people are traveling upcountry to celebrate Christmas with their kin. Ugabus keeps all the fares booked consistent with ordinary market prices and does not have spikes in their rates. The firm also gives first-time clients a 15% discount on their first ticket booking.

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