A cushioned ride

During my frequent travels to Bangalore from Chennai earlier this year, I would often pass by the Volvo buses of the BMTC plying within the city and would make promises to myself to experience one of them. As it turned out, not one of the promises were kept.

Finally, I’ve redeemed myself. The previous Sunday, I took Route 331A which goes to ITPL from Shivajinagar terminus. Though the BMTC has the departure schedule online, perhaps one should take them with a pinch of salt. Blame it on traffic and the typical Indian proclivity to not keeping time. This is perhaps a biased statement to make based on just 1 experience but if one has to wait for 30 minutes(on a Sunday) past the scheduled time, I’d like to know how you feel.

Barring this, I had a lovely time during the ride. The bus is extremely spacious and airconditioned. Being on automatic transmission, the driver tends to lean on the air-brakes a wee bit too often. As a result, elderly and aged people will not find it very comforting to being pushed around. One can also chill listening to FM radio. Huge windows in the front & sides enable you to watch traffic allround(nearly!). Every now and then, you lock eyes with people outside who display a variety of emotions, mostly envy. Not to mention, watching the reactions of people who see the bus for the first time and stop in their tracks!

The conductor – Satish – was amiable and we chit-chatted during the ride. I’m told that on Sundays, occupancy hovers around the 50% mark. Translated into number of passengers, this is around 200 of them and they tend to commute after 11 am. Satisfaction levels are very high and its very rare that someone complains about the high fares. Personally, I feel that its cheaper than travelling in autos and boy, do you travel in style or what?

At Shivajinagar Bus Terminusvolvo_bmtc.jpg

Keeping track of vehicle movement & proximity at the rear of the bus

Audio unit and the ‘Route Display’ message controllervolvo_bmtc3.jpg

A view of the bus from the entrance volvo_bmtc7.jpg

A view of the bus from the rearvolvo_bmtc4.jpg

A nice touch! A suggestion box would have also be welcome, I thought!

Driver Chikka-Thimappa and Conductor Satish. Though they appear so grim faced, they were actually very nice. Perhaps the pressure to ensure safety of the approx. Rs 60 lac vehicle and daily collections are writ large on their faces.

As I get off the bus, I sincerely hope that BMTC will achieve their goal of economic viability in running this service. Particularly, when I hear that they plan to introduce 1000 Volvos on Bangalore roads! Perhaps running it on CNG and combining it with manual transmission – as planned – will make it more affordable, bring in more passengers (apart from the current IT & blue-collar office goers) and ultimately, result in more revenues. Still, one can’t help but appreciate about the fact that the BMTC is the first public sector undertaking to introduce Volvos on intra-city routes.


8 Comments so far

  1. Shruthi (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    Verrry nice photos! Each time I go on a Volvo, I wish I had a camera so that I could take snaps and send it to people who have been asking me for them. Now I can just send them this link :)

    The Volvos that start from Electronic City are just 5 mins or so late during weekdays, but yes, there was a Saturday when I had to wait for close to 35 mins for the bus :(

    Btw here is my account of my first travel in a Volvo – http://www.pkblogs.com/nychthemeron/2006/06/burning-ambition.html

  2. Prashanth (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 10:46 am

    I’m gonna miss my office cab purposefully sometime this week or next, so that I get a chance to experience Volvo :)

  3. Praveen (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 1:27 pm

    I really enjoyed the Volvo ride couple of times

  4. F e r r a r i (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

    BMTC is the first one in country to introduce this :) And I commute to office daily in such a bus in Sweden. Only difference is that the buses are blue in color, and heater instead of AC.
    BTW if they implement smart cards for these buses, then it will be even more good
    Nice report Ravi!

  5. silkboard (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 11:41 pm

    Nice report and pictures there! These new buses look very tempting. And I can see that they (ITPL routes) are not empty at all, even during middle of the day non-commute hours.

    Each time I look at a full Volvo and the profile of commuters, I get this good feeling that 10 cars have been given a rest today.

  6. rubic_cube (unregistered) on July 20th, 2006 @ 2:22 am

    Neat. This is the only way I can trust my wife and 10 month old daughter to get home safe and sound and in comfort. Nice pics… and I am yet to experience this luxury!

  7. Ravi (unregistered) on July 20th, 2006 @ 11:13 am

    Hey all,
    Thanks for your comments & appreciation!

  8. N.Ramachandran (unregistered) on July 24th, 2006 @ 11:56 pm

    Last week i took a ride on Volvo Bus Route 2 from
    J.P.Nagar 6th ph to KG Bus stand.

    Shocked to realise the fare collected was Rs 30-00 as against Rs 20-00 mentioned in WEB Site and also there was no announcement about increase of the fare in any newspapers.The increse itself is too steep.A 50% increse in one go without any

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