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Transport and logistics

New Hong Kong app aims to bring the convenience of ride-hailing to the city’s coach industry

  • Frustration at the inefficiency and datedness of Hong Kong’s non-franchised coach sector drove Roy Tsang to start Jojobus
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 11:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 11:02am

Coach company boss Roy Tsang Kin-wai hopes to revolutionise the old-fashioned non-franchised coach industry with Hong Kong’s first ride-hailing app for buses, connecting customers with a more efficient and convenient coach service.

With the newly launched JoJobus app running in a similar manner to ride-hailing app Uber, more than 500 coaches from eight companies are currently seeking a bigger piece of the action on the platform in an industry serviced by more than 7,000 non-franchised buses.

If things go as planned, Tsang, the 40-year-old director of JoJobus, envisions expanding the online coach-hire platform to mainland China as well as Taiwan.

Instead of having to book coach tickets a few days ahead and to go through the hassle of back-and-forth communication with coach company staff, customers can now book and pay for their coach journeys via the JoJobus app.

The app matches customer bookings with coach partners and the first available one who takes the booking gets the fare. The firm then distributes payment back to the coach company, taking a commission of over 10 per cent.

So far, the most popular destinations are the airport and the West Kowloon terminus for the high-speed rail line.

“I have always thought the non-franchised coach industry in Hong Kong is very outdated. Traditionally a customer has needed to browse the internet and make phone calls to several suppliers to compare prices,” Tsang said.

“You have to wait for the coach companies to return calls and confirm your booking. It might take days to get the one you want. The whole process is time-consuming and inefficient.”

“But this app for matching coach services seeks to revolutionise the whole logistics of the coach industry,” he said.

Tsang, who has himself hired more than 30 drivers, running a fleet of 30 coaches, had been mulling the plan for a quicker coach-matching service for three to four years.

It took him about two years to develop the app, with a total investment of about HK$1 million. In the three months since it was launched, there were more than 200 business orders.

“The traditional way of doing coach-hire is no longer viable. If we don’t keep up with the times and explore an innovative operation model, we will be wiped out,” he said.

For Tsang, the advantage of the app is that it can deliver service the same day.

“We once received an order from a newly wed couple who forgot to book a coach to transport their guests from the wedding banquet. They made the order at 10pm and the coach was able to arrive at 10.45pm. In the past, you couldn’t call any coach firms after 6pm,” he said.