Oct 11, 2022

Commute woes

 Back in 2010-11, I used to rely completely on BMTC buses for my work commute. The AC Volvo buses were comfortable. The frequency and connectivity were also excellent. After more than a decade, I have again gone back to taking BMTC buses for my twice-a-week work-from-office routine. One main reason is that the route is a direct one, from the bus stop near my home to the one near my office and vice-versa.

Another important reason has been the unreliability of Ola/Uber cab services. Much has already been lamented about this topic on LinkedIn. Let me add my 2 cents as well!🙂

I have wasted countless hours while going through the excruciating task of booking a cab on a busy weekday morning. There have also been days when I have waited for a booking to go through for nearly 40 minutes, trying multiple apps.

Staring at the 4th line of the booking progress bar on Uber with no certainty of whether the booking will get confirmed,

As the booking gets confirmed, getting a call or a message from the driver asking "Where is the drop?",

After waiting for 10-15 minutes for the driver to arrive, he decides to cancel,

After waiting for 10 minutes, you notice the driver's vehicle hasn't moved an inch toward your location.

What frustrates me the most is the sheer uncertainty at every step of this whole process.

After a few trials, I figured out that the BMTC bus arrives at my bus stop around 8:30AM. Once I board, there is a certainty that I'd arrive at my destination between 9:15-9:30AM depending on the traffic.

"Predictability" is a very important factor when you use a product or a service.

When you click on a bill payment app for payment of Rs.100, you expect that Rs.100 only will be deducted, nothing more or less.

For pure-play software products, predictability has almost become an expected standard (let alone a few exceptions!).

But for software products with a "human" enabler, predictability becomes a challenge. The cab booking might get initiated but its completion is contingent upon a human on the other side - a human with unique goals and motivations.

As a product person, I'm curious to understand and explore how predictability can be improved on these hybrid apps.

As a user, it feels pointless to waste time and money (16 times higher than a bus fare) with such unpredictability.

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