Forbes Hails Thailand’s ViaBus as the Best Innovation in Asia – Transforming the Future of Public Transport

ViaBus, the first real-time public transport tracking and navigation application in Thailand is a groundbreaking work by Chula alumni who were among Forbes 30 under 30 Asia – 2021, a list honoring Asians under 30 years of age who dare to invest and develop innovations that will forever change the face of industries.

The ViaBus team members were named Forbes 30 under 30 Asia – 2021 by Forbes Magazine

“Unpredictable wait,” a common problem among public transit systems passengers that frequently result in missed important appointments, showing up late for work, hours wasted on the road instead of spending with family or on vacation, etc. This has detrimental effects on the quality of life, physical health, mental health, and even economic losses.

Fortunately, this problem is about to become a thing of the past with ViaBus, an application that will make life and travel easy, convenient, and predictable!  The co-founders of ViaBus were recently selected from over 2,500 nominations by Forbes Magazine to be on the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia – 2021 list.

Intouch Marsvongpragorn, Managing Director of Via Group (Thailand) Co., Ltd. and alumnus of the Department of Information and Communication Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chula (Class of 2014) shared the success story of Viabus, a revolutionary innovation that has changed the public transport landscape and brought fame to Thailand on the world stage.

What is ViaBus?

“Viabus is a public transport companion, Thailand’s first real-time tracking and navigation application that connects all transportation systems in one app, including buses, minibusses, BTS SkyTrain, subways, trains, express boats, ferries, and inter-provincial vans with services covering more than 70 provinces.

“ViaBus users can see the locations, bus numbers, and the nearest bus stops, so they can determine the fastest route to their destinations.  ViaBus can help guide Thais and foreigners who use Thai public transport.”

Intouch Marsvongpragorn, Managing Director of Via Group (Thailand) Co., Ltd.
A former Chula student in Information and Communication Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

ViaBus idea conceived when he “missed the bus”

“When I was a first-year student, I had to go to campus for some activities, but I missed the Chula Pop Bus (internal shuttle buses within Chulalongkorn University), making me late. So, I thought that if we could know in advance when the bus would arrive, it would make life so much easier. From that day on, my friends and I started to work on developing the Chula Pop Bus application to solve the problem of waiting for a bus within the Chula campus.

“When we rolled out the app, it received excellent response. The app was downloaded by up to 4,000 people. After a year, the download increased tenfold and went up to 40,000 which were not limited to only the Chula community but included people in Sam Yan and Siam areas who also use bus services within Chula.

“The Chula Pop Bus app was the prototype and inspiration of ViaBus which has been expanded to support the functionality of the public transit system on a macro scale.”

Behind ViaBus’ Success

“ViaBus is a tech startup that I co-founded with Thanatset Horwattanaphan and Thanit Seunghathaiporn from the time we both were in college. At the beginning, it was supported by CU Innovation Hub both in terms of opportunities and seed funding. We also received cooperation from the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA).”

“We had been developing and testing the innovation for about 2 years with tens of thousands of actual users, then we launched it in 2018 for public use and kept on developing it ever since.  Now, we receive more cooperation from many agencies, namely the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, as well as BMTA.”

“I think ViaBus’ success is a result of the opportunity, funding, and passion of our team that allowed us to get started and continue without giving up when faced with problems along the way.”

ViaBus Application

What are the highlights of ViaBus that users will love? 

“The highlight of ViaBus is the real-time display of public transport information. The application will update route information and traffic conditions while calculating travel time based on a real-time and up-to-date database such as canceled bus stops, stalled or parked vehicles, route change and road closure, etc.

“Please download ViaBus to help plan your life on the road. We have designed the app to be easy to use and it supports both IOS and Android platforms.  Users can then select the desired menu, such as how to travel, view the map, find the nearest bus stop.  ViaBus will mainly help users to

  • Easily and conveniently plan their trips using public transport, whether by bus, boat, train or inter-provincial vans.
  • Better manage their time – No more time wasted waiting for buses or boats.
  • Reduce the risk of getting lost by navigating with ViaBus.
  • Be safe in their travels.  Passengers can see the train schedule and the time of arrival at the station and don’t have to waste time waiting for the bus at the station.
  • Reduce restrictions on access to public services for people with disabilities. ViaBus will identify vehicles that can accommodate wheelchairs, as well as helping the visually impaired access services more conveniently.
  • Foreigners and tourists can also travel by Thai public transport more conveniently as ViaBus also displays the results in English.

ViaBus’ Next Steps

“At present, we have more than 2 million users who have downloaded and regularly use the app which covers various types of public transport.  The app has successfully helped passengers minimize wait time totaling over 7.7 billion minutes, an equivalent of 5 billion baht in economic value, which I view as just a starting point.  We will continuously develop ViaBus by adding more interesting features, such as:

  1. Develop and enhance the capacity of the public transport ecosystem, including passengers and operators.
  2. Connect all the public transport systems by increasing the number and types of vehicles, such as local buses, while expanding the app coverage to the whole country.”

“We want to make ViaBus a travel assistant for public transit users, as well as a management assistant for operators to control and monitor passenger transport efficiently.  This will encourage more ridership of public transport, and will help reduce traffic congestion and reduce energy consumption.”

Innovation of Honor — transforming the transportation landscape

Finally, Intouch reiterated his pride in being chosen as one of “Forbes 30 under 30 Asia – 2021”  in that ViaBus as a Thai startup has brought fame to the country and proven the excellence of Thai people by being recognized on an international stage.

“Previously, ViaBus had been awarded Best Performing Startup by DTAC (Total Access Communication PCL) in 2019 in the HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Cup mobile application contest.  We also received the MEGA PITCH 100 SID award from Siam Innovation District in conjunction with the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2018.  My team and I are very proud of every recognition we have received that will inspire us to continue to develop innovations for society in the future,” Intouch concluded.

Written by Supawan Pipitsombut

Chula is the place to discover one’s true individuality and the years I spent here were most enjoyable.

Rossukhon Kongket Alumni, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University

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