Sometime in late 2017, Little Cab, the e-taxi service that rivals the likes of Uber and Taxify, announced its plans to launch an e-bus service to serve folks in Nairobi. The announcement was hardly addressed for the better part of 2018, and we assumed the organization was pursuing leads to funding the e-bus project, which we verified and explored a couple of hours ago after holding a talk with Little Cab’s CEO Kamal Budgabhatti.
It should be noted that the project was kept on hold as the cab company scouted for funders. Notably, and according to the firm, Little Cab is primarily funded by Craft Silicon – but that has not stopped the firm from searching for investors. The company says that it has closed up to US$ 12 million in funding, and looks forward to more significant investments as it augments its trade proposition with additional services.
The e-bus service is undergoing pilot tests, which implies that Nairobians will see a couple of Little Buses doing rounds in the city. The pilot aims to gather additional data about e-bus services.
“We have started the pilot for now. We are learning and modifying as we move forward,” noted CEO Kamal Budgabhatti.
Onboarding process and deployment
The e-bus service will replicate Little Cab operations. Initially, the exercise will continue to explore a test model prior to setting up software and operational tools. Afterward, the firm will invite partners that will register their buses on the platform in the same manner drivers list their cars on the riding app.
“Once the pilot is over, and software and operations set up properly, we would invite partners to put their busses on the platform, same as how we have partners put their cars on the platform,” said Kamal Budgabhatti.
Little says that riders will pay for their trips, in the same way, they do with Little Cab. That entails preloading their Little Wallets via banking services or M-PESA. Drivers can also load wallets for riders.
Little Cabs is in talks with NTSA as it explores to launch buses that will align with NTSA’s recommendations.
“Buses will be anything over 33-seater capacity,” highlighted Kamal Budgabhatti.
Little says that the service will go live in the next 4 or 5 weeks, which is sometime in February.
“Depending on the customization that is required, you would see one or two buses running around in a weeks’ time. During the pilot, riders would not be charged anything,” reports Little.
This implies that riders will not be charged during the testing phase.
“What we want to provide is a clean mass transit platform. Today, many people would not take mass transport because it’s chaotic. We hope this would be addressed under Little Shuttle,” concludes Kamal Budgabhatti.
This means that the project purposes to solve the address Nairobi’s public transport menace, and while Little’s approach is a long shot, its aims appear to subjectively serve a niche that fancies the comfort of organized and tech-based public transport.