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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

VRL Volvo experience

VRL Volvo (click here to book online)

I have travelled on the VRL Volvo quite a few times now
1) Belgaum-Mumbai route
2) Davanagere-Pune route.
3) Bangalore-Mumbai route

The Belgaum-Mumbai route was done way back in May 2007 and I dont remember much. I was travelling with my better half and luckily we managed to get seat No 1 & 2, which meant we could straighten our legs and sleep comfortably. The booking was done at a VRL outlet in Belgaum, and the guy did it online (as compared to other booking agents using the good old telephone system) All along the journey, one of the VRL employee, got down around 4-5 times at the local VRL offices with a register in his hand. May be VRL keeps a track on the timings of the buses crossing the cities. Good thing! This was a semi-sleeper Volvo, which basically means that there is leg support and the seats recline a lot. Overall, a comfortable journey...

The second time was in July 2007 end for Davanagere to Pune (around 560km) I made a booking on the Bangalore-Mumbai Volvo and the ticket cost me Rs 900! Although the ticket for the entire journey is Rs 1000, they charge 900 for Davanagere-Pune, which is like just 560kms or so! I again got seat No1 and so was happy. But what I didnt appreciate was that I had to wait for like 45mins. The bus was running late. The least the office could do was spend 2 bucks to make a call to me and inform me about the delay. If that wasnt enough, the bus made a dinner stop next to the office. So, actually, I had to wait for a good 1.5 hours at the office. This was a big disappointment. The journey was comfortable after this. We left Davanagere at around 11pm, and reached Pune Swargate by 8:30am.

On 14th August, I took a normal Ashok Leyland 2*2 VRL bus from Davanagere to Bangalore. The distance is around 275kms, and the ticket was for Rs 220 (quite expensive for a non A/C Indian bus). I was unfortunate to get the rear most seat. The road till Chitradurga is quite bad and trust me, I had a nightmare that night. We left Davanagere at 11pm, arrived in Bangalore by 5:15am. There is a HUGE difference in the way a passenger feels in a normal Indian bus as compared to a Volvo. Vibrations, noise, slow speed, comfort etc, everything matters.

I also took a Bangalore - Mumbai VRL Volvo in October first week. 1020kms /18hrs in a bus? Yeah, things are different in a Volvo. The long distance VRL buses (or for that matter Sharma Volvos) are 41 seaters / 10rows (the Mumbai-Pune Neetas are 53seats / 13rows). This means one can really stretch the legs and sleep / seat comfortably. We left Bangalore at around 4:15pm, literally flew to Davanagere. Enroute we had a puncture, so the bus arrived at around 9:45pm, instead of the usual 9:00pm. The 260km distance takes less than 6hrs usually (getting out of bangalore along takes an hour!). After a dinner stop at Davanagere, we left at around 10:30pm, reaching Pune by around 7am, and Vashi (new mumbai) by around 10:30am. Nice journey, very comfortable, next to no vibrations and noise. Volvos rock!

You can also log onto for booking the tickets online

Sharma Volvo : Davangere to Mumbai route experience

Sharma Volvo : On the Bangalore-Mumbai Volvo

I often go to Davanagere in Karnataka. While going from Mumbai, i take the KSRTC volvo, but while coming I take the Sharma (sometimes the VRL).
I have taken the Sharma Volvo (the Bangalore to Mumbai volvo) from Davanagere on occasions like
1. 31st May 2007 : 6pm
2. 14th June 2007 : 6pm
3. 5th July 2007 : 6pm
4. 15th Aug 2007 : 9pm
5. 27th Oct 2007 : 6pm
and many more times..

The distance from Davanagere to Mumbai is around 750km, but i stay in Navi Mumbai (around 720km). The bus takes 12.5hrs for this 720km trip, out of which around 75km are in bad shape. There is a 45min dinner stop, a 15min petrol stop at night. The bus usually keeps around 100-105km/h on the speedometer. On 15th August 2007 for example, the bus left Davanagere by 9:15pm, arrived New Mumbai at 9:45am. We had two railway crossings to negotiate plus due to rains, the driver took it slow on the highway and so I guess, normally, the bus must be reaching New Mumbai usually by 9am. The ticket was for 850 bucks and as I had booked the ticket 4 days in advance, I was lucky enough to get seat No 1. This seat is right behind the driver, and u can actually see the speedometer console shadow in the window next to the seat (on the right). The best seat for overnight trips. The bus seemed quite new, very less noise and vibs inside the cabin. On the move, I just couldnt make out if the engine was running. Volvos do cost a bomb, but are worth it. Absolutely fantastic.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Neeta Volvo experiences:

Neeta Volvo : Pune to Mumbai / Mumbai to Pune

I have travelled umpteen number of times on Neeta's fleet of Volvos between Pune - Mumbai and vice versa. Neeta was one of the first operators to buy the

Volvo B7R buses and hence most of its fleet on the Mumbai - Pune sector is quite old. They are using the newer buses on the longer routes like Pune - Bangalore, Pune-Hyderabad

I would like to recall some experiences here.
July 2007 end: This Volvo B7R seemed to be the very first version one. I couldt make this out from the headlamp and the front rim design. Once inside, the engine was making a lot of sound, so was the airconditioning system too. And worse, the air vent system was hanging loose above the seats and was held back using tapes! Anyways, the bus took 4 hours from Pune station to Vashi junction and I payed Rs 210 for a window seat. On the expressway, the bus was flying,crossing the kilometer markers between 35-37secs frequently, with a best of 33.49 seconds, which means a true speed of 107.5km/h, or around 115km/h on the speedometer. Not bad for a 5-6 yr old bus.
Neeta is a big name here in this area but of late, people have realised that the buses on the Mumbai - Pune sector are quite old. I have not have had an opportunity to take a long distance neeta bus yet.

You can log onto for info on routes and timings.

28th November 2007
I just came from Pune to Mumbai in a Neeta Volvo today (28th November 2007)
I booked the 7:15am Dadar Neeta Volvo (as I had to get off at Nerul, New Mumbai)
The scheduled bus didnt come till 7:30am and only when some of us started questioning the guys did they allot another Neeta bus, which had just arrived from
Hyderabad to us.

1.As the bus had just come from an overnight trip, it was dirty inside. They didnt even clean it, or push all the seats back to the upright position. Great customer care!
2.The A/c was kept off till Parihar Chownk, a good 55mins from Ambica pump (station)
3.The bus was in a bad shape (nothing unusual for Neeta!)

7:15am – scheduled departure
7:35am – we finally leave
7:45am – Deccan (JM Road)
7:55am – Paud Road Neeta office
8:05am – Chandni chownk
8:18am – Pashan Road turn (opp that big TATA dealership)
8:25am – Parihar chownk. The bus waited for 10mins, before leaving at 8:35am
8:55am – Wakad
9:10am – The expressway starts

The bus took a 20min halt after the first toll-barrier. Also, we wasted another 5mins picking up two passengers from Lonavala (under the expressway)

10:50am – Finally got off at Nerul.

I payed 200bucks for this. Not worth it. Neeta volvo : going down the drain, soon

2nd December 2007 : Pune to Mumbai

This time I was lucky enough to have been dropped off at Parihar Chownk, Aundh.I got there at 12:15pm, in time for the Dadar Volvo. Ticket was for 220 bucks (!), and the bus waited for 10mins there before it took off. As usual, an old used bus. I have known to come that Neeta is purchasing old used buses from other operators. These old buses have generally been used on long routes and hence have 45 or 49 seats as compared to 53 for most of the Neeta Volvos. Hence a little more space. Everything was ok till the break point at Expressway where this bus halted for a good 35mins! Thirty five minutes. I saw two Shivneris (run by MSRTC) come and go in that time. Grrr.

Mumbai to Pune Volvo