Nearly half of the long distance bus tickets sold every day are now made available online, thanks to the growing use of private ticketing platforms which came into existence some three years ago.
The benefits of simply going online or calling up 24/7 hotlines to get tickets via email or SMS become evident especially around Eids, centring which bus companies sell around 2 lakh tickets daily, according to insiders.
The festivals in part usher in sufferings of people who have to stand for hours on long queues before counters with hopes of celebrating the occasions with their loved ones at home.
So it helps availing the facility paying in any format, be it online or through cash, bank cards or mobile financial services. Some cards even give customers' cash back and discounts for Eid.
Informing of the 50 percent availability, Rewanul Haque Jami, director of bdtickets.com, said a good number of people understand this benefit and within the next two to three years, people will cease to go to counters to purchase tickets.
Coming into operation two years back, bdtickets.com is one of the three private online platforms offering the service for 26 bus companies, charging passengers Tk 21 per ticket.
Shohoz.com pioneered the opening of this segment of e-commerce three years back and now serve 42 bus companies. The other platform is www.bus.com.
Jami said they sold over 20,000 tickets centring Eid-ul-Fitr last year and that sales were doubling and on the rise.
However, that bus companies do not provide the number of tickets demanded by the online platforms is a major concern.
“We already sold a good number of tickets...but in most cases we can meet only one fourth of customer demand,” said Shohoz.com Managing Director Maliha M Quadir.
Their demand is usually met at other times but during the Eid rush, some prominent companies impose restrictions, she said.
“Actually the government can form a policy for bus company owners to make at least 50 percent of the tickets available online,” she added.
She opted to keep their sales figures a secret. One industry insider informed that a company had already sold 35,000 tickets and were yet to make available return tickets. Jami of bdtickets.com said the demand was highest for tickets to the northern regions as there were other options such as trains and airlines available for major destinations such as Chittagong and Sylhet.
He said they invested Tk 3.5 crore establishing the network and distributing computers among the ticket counters. One Kamruzzaman Sheikh, a private job holder who recently bought tickets online for his family, said the process was so easy that it would amaze those trying it for the first time. He recalled his experience last year when he had to wait five hours in a queue for tickets.
Most of the online platforms sold out within hours of making advance tickets centring Eid available on June 12-13. They will sell return tickets within a day or two. Rajib Ahmed, president of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh, said they were content with the popularity of online ticketing.