So, I was randomly scrolling through the Google Play Store, as anyone does when they are bored, and I came across something interesting. While there, and for some reason, I typed in ZUPCO just to see what would turn up and I got three apps in the search results (all of them in early access). The first was for ZUPCO Intercity, the second was for ZUPCO drivers and the last one was a Bus tracking/haling app that’s similar to ride-share companies like Vaya or Hwindi.
The first one wasn’t too surprising because when ZUPCO launched its intercity prebooking partnership with Vaya, there was talk of a standalone app for the state-owned public transport company. Similarly the second was nothing out of the ordinary, it makes sense that there would be an application for ZUPCO drives.
The last one was what really got me because this is something that seemed to have been overlooked when ZUPCO and Vaya launched their intercity bus pre-booking service. Because as we have seen over the last week or so ZUPCO has been unable to cope with the demand for urban transport.
One would imagine that any sort of partnership, even if it was months before the transport crisis worsened, would cater to urban travel. The demand alone should have spurred ZUPCO to find innovative solutions to this problem then.
It might look like a ride share app but it’s more likely a bus tracking app
Before we go any further, I should say that the assumption I am running on is that the application is for Bus tracking. The alternative theory is that ZUPCO launching its own rideshare service because as earlier mentioned the early-access app looks like VAYA’s.
I don’t know about you but the latter seems very unlikely. ZUPCO has bigger problems and trying to compete with Vaya and Hwindi would be a waste of time and resources. The safe assumption, at least in my opinion, is that the app may be for passengers to track ZUPCO’s fleet.
Another thing to note is that the team behind all three apps is Matsimba Technologies. If that name sounds familiar that is because the company worked with the govt in 2019 on a fuel monitoring system.
Furthermore, Mastimba Technologies is an enterprise that is under the auspices of the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT). The latter has worked with ZUPCO before on its quick access payment tap card for commuters.
And for anyone wondering, ZUPCO can track its buses. In 2019 the company announced that it would be putting tracking systems on its fleet to “improve service delivery”. The system was also said to have been put on ZUPCO franchise kombis or commuter omnibuses.
The app itself
As previously mentioned the bus tracking app is still in its infancy, however, this is encouraging from ZUPCO. When this app is fully fleshed out and refined, it could be a massive time saver for commuters.
If it works anything like any of the other apps on the market then it should, at the very least, give commuters enough information about the location of a ZUPCO bus. This will allow those in a hurry to make alternative arrangements in the event that a ZUPCO bus won’t arrive at a time that is in line with their schedule.
However, as great as this innovation is there is one major problem…
Mobile internet has been a major topic of conversation for years in Zimbabwe. This is, of course, because we have seen the service continually leap ahead of what most are earning.
ZUPCO’s bus tracking app will most certainly rely on a general data bundle in order to function which means it will be reserved for those who can afford more than a WhatsApp bundle.
What I think ZUPCO should do is channel the spirit we have seen from the banking sector and zero-rate the app. To further increase the coverage of this service, ZUPCO should also make bus tracking available on their website at no cost to the commuter.
If there is one more thing to add it is that the app should also come with a capacity indicator. It’s all well and good to track buses but it would be even more useful if the app can show if a bus is full or not.
You should also read
- ZUPCO partners with NRZ to launch 3 routes in Harare
- What EcoCash is to financial services, is what ZUPCO is to the transport sector
- ZUPCO to get 50 buses as govt scrambles to prop up its monopoly
- You can now book a ZUPCO intercity bus through VAYA