Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Volvo in buses

Bus travel in India was a pain (and nobody realised it) until very recently. It would have remained so, if it was not for Volvo and its amazing buses. With the airconditioned Volvo and its premium positioning, bus service has undergone a sea change from its primitive moorings. The Volvo is as good as any similar international bus service, minus the roads. Prior to Volvo, there was a vague classification of buses as "Air buses" (with some sort of air suspension or air in the tyres) and "Deluxe", which could mean just fresh paint on the outside and sometimes, not even that. There was the maddening classification of buses as "Video coach". (Watching a movie in a bus or flight with all the surrounding noise, sheesh!).

Thanks to the entry of Volvo, bus services are now more palatable. Most "Volvo" services welcome the passengers with a blanket and a bottle of drinking water. Some even serve a smallish meal on board. No more overloading, no cramming of passengers in the alleys, no unscheduled stops, trained drivers, good comfort for drivers (well, see the cabins in non Volvos and Volvos) and overall, a better transportation experience. Now, if only someone could lay better roads. Of course, there are a few dubious operators who have tried to pass off some inferior services as Volvos, but barring such idiots, Volvos have redefined internal bus services. Once the GQ is ready, Volvos will mutiply on the roads and in trucks (another day, another post) as well.

If there is a "Volvo" service in other areas ( and I mean good competition that redefines an entire space), things could improve. On a slightly unrelated note, the railways could lease their tracks and let private operators run trains. Umm, why not!!

3 comments:

karthik R said...

What routes are these buses plying on? I used to take the 'omni' buses on the Bangalore-Salem and Trichy-Chennai routes once upon a time. Some of them were quite good (NS, KPN..). But most of them were crappy.

What about the price differential between the Volvo operators and the other Tata, Leyland operators? I'm sure the Volvo buses must cost quite a bit more than the other ones.

Neelakantan said...

Volvo services are available on most major routes. Bangalore to Hyderabad,
Chennai, Kerala, Mangalore. Bombay to Pune and a whole host of other places. Tourism buses to certain sites are also available in the Volvo flavour. Most of the government owned road transport corporations have volvo fleets ( usually leased fm Volvo, since that is Volvos operating model) to compete with the private guys.
The price differential is usually about 50% more than the best non AC buses and compares well with AC fares in trains.

Anonymous said...

a friend of mine who works in the travel industry says...new buses from mercedes (costing around 90lac ) and from tatas (costing aorund 20 lacs) are supposedly entering this segement of volvos.

the tatas buses are supposedly of very good quality (the korean firm they took over seem to be paying off)

with more competition...will the state of other modes of transport change for the better?

trains especially have many a miles to go..!!