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Setting sights on KSRTC, what say?

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BusPublic Transport

We have discussed BMTC a lot. Tons of suggestions, some of which have gone in. Some of us here helped create the Bus Day event. We pulled lots of data out on their operations. etc etc. Wanted to check if we can set our sights on KSRTC now.

We have primarily been a Bangalore web site. Any BMTC issue will find critics and backers in no time. But KSRTC is different. Not much scrutiny, not that much interest, at least on the internet. Their operations have wider reach, and criticism or suggestions could have larger impact.

While we were dissecting BMTC over last 2-3 years, KSRTC has built a sizable e-tickets portal which could soon get a map based route search, it is getting lauded for using bio-deisel, and is trying to build intra-city services in several tier-2 cities of the state.

But yeah, wouldn't you expect KSRTC to put out only good peices of news on themselves. There may be issues there as well - biased connectivity, last mile issues (at a little larger level), overdone focus on connecting Bangalore over regional hubs, overused buses for lower tier services, badly planned hubs like TTMC - we will have to make things up for now as we just don't know enough about KSRTC.

Also, unlike for BMTC, KSRTC does have private buses for competition. How is that working out for road transport market? Is competition pushing KSRTC to do better? If yes, then do the numbers and operational stats show that? Does the competition have a level playing field?

How about we take a break from BMTC, and train the "guns" on KSRTC to see how it goes :) They are fairly open (like BMTC too has been), and will share info on themselves without requiring tons of useless RTIs (as is the case with BDA, Railways).

Comments

silkboard's picture

Why does KSRTC exist!?

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When private operators are allowed, a first and fair question for a newbie (like me) to ask is - why does KSRTC exist in the first place, as in what's its purpose in life, welfare, business or something else?

  • Does it operate with a welfare focus - to connect places that private operators won't?
  • Does it exist to push as well as regulate private players?
  • Is bus transportation not a big and sustainable business to get quality and large bus operators, thus keeping a place for KSRTC?
  • What rules and restrictions exist for inter-city bus operators today?

I would want to understand these very basic :existence" questions first. Wonder if Mr Gupta himself can leave a few comments or a leading post to spur some interest in KSRTC within Praja community.

Vasanth's picture

I have lot of issues to be explained on KSRTC

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 Well, I have hundreds of issues to be expressed on KSRTC, but not much attention was drawn here. I used to send mails to news papers. Sent  mails to ksrtc, no replies at all like we get response from BMTC.

First and foremost thing is the fare, lobbying factor etc.. 

Will write in detail in this thread.

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

 I suggest KSRTC also to make

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 I suggest KSRTC also to make data available to Google Transit, which will help lots of common(and planning personalities). I am ready to collaborate with KSRTC for that. Again if they do, they will be first in India I believe.

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
murali772's picture

rich KSRTC's answer to "Yelli Iddira?"

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Every now and then, bus systems in India pose a problem of plenty. And this has the same annoying effect everyday on commuters as the dearth of buses. Gaurav Gupta, Managing Director of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), points to this peculiar problem in several cities in the south. As many as three buses scheduled for different time-slots pile up at a single bus-stop, even though they are headed for the same destination via the same route.

This means a passenger has to be at the bus station when the three buses arrive. Otherwise, he has to wait for the fourth bus to arrive at its scheduled time. “What is most important is that timing must be maintained,” asserts Gupta, head of the state transport utility. “The spacing between buses should be maintained,” he explains, citing the local trains of Mumbai. “They manage this every three minutes.”

Two years ago, KSRTC zeroed in on a solution, which will enter its pilot stage in Mysore, Karnataka’s second-largest city, this November: an intelligent transport system. The bus-systems project entails linking up bus stations, a vehicle-tracking system to keep a tab on over 400 buses, and an online passenger-information display system that gives real-time updates. In effect, commuters will also get SMS alerts about where their bus is, and its arrival time.

This Rs 19-crore project has caught the fancy of the World Bank, too, which provided KSRTC a Rs 9-crore grant under the aegis of its Sustainable Urban Transport-GEF (Global Environment Facility). The remaining funding has been approved under the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) and the Karnataka government. A global tender has been floated to attract technology-providers. By September 2011, KSRTC will look to complete the project.

With the intelligent-transport systems project, KSRTC wants to meet four broad goals. First, it wants to automate bus-assignment by vehicle ID, line, route, schedule, etc. on a specific operational day. Second, it can monitor deviation of a vehicle from its timetable and calculate solutions accordingly. This information can be presented to the driver in his vehicle computer display. There will also be an automatic next-stop announcement, which is done through visual displays and voice announcements.

Third, the Control Centre can send or receive text messages to (or from) one driver or a group of drivers. Fourth, and most importantly, a real-time passenger information system brings predictability to information on expected arrival and departure times. This can be further distributed via the Internet or mobile phones.

For the full report in Business Outlook, click here

Well, this looks like rich KSRTC's answer to good old "Yelli Iddira?". Yes, it has more features than Yi, but none that the Yi team couldn't have developed were they given a chance, way back in 06-07, and at a fraction of the Rs 19 cr budgeted for this project. The moral of the story apparently is that while dealing with government agencies, you need to know how to 'package' your offer in such a way that it becomes attractive to the decision makers - (check
this) benefits and costs to consumers are of very little consequence.
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Mysore IMTC's - hopefully better than our TTMC's

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KSRTC has invested more energy into the intelligent bus-station environment in Mysore. Commuters need to be aware of which buses to board at what point of the bus station. The passenger activity has to be enabled and backed by subways and pavements. More importantly, the capacity has to facilitate flexibility in bus operations, spread over 400 intelligent buses.

The KSRTC is building seven such bus systems, titled Inter Modal Transit Centres in Mysore with an outlay of Rs 110 crore. They are close to completion, and will function from September 2011. “In time, these terminals will include peripheral bus stations that can cater to inter-city and intra-city bus movement,” Mr Gupta adds.    

For the full report in Business Outlook, click here.

Hopefully, these are more than our JNURM funds swallowing TTMC's - check this
 

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

Murali, you are late by a year!

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Murali,

Looks like you missed the PRAJA post on KSRTC Mysore's Intelligent transport system.

http://praja.in/en/blog/kbsyed61/2009/07/31/project-report-intelligent-transport-system-ksrtc-mysore

This project report was prepared by Central Institute of Road Transport, Pune.

-Syed

murali772's picture

what about NW/ NE KRTC's?

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KSRTC’s expansion into a Rs 1,746-crore state body in the past decade has given optimism for the Mysore project in mass-transit circles. It has doubled its profit figures since 2004, which is rare for government utilities.

For the full report in the Business Outlook, click here  

If my understanding is right, Hubli based NWKRTC, and Gulbarga based NEKRTC are making losses. Besides, these are like Siberia for KSRTC officials - meant for punishment postings for those who cannot fit themselves into the cushy scene in Bengaluru. This begs the question as to "why KSRTC exists" that SB had raised earlier. If a government entity has to provide a service, it should do so, and a good one at that, where the private sector is loathe to providing it. Or, it should facilitate the private sector taking it on. On the other hand, the government is more keen on taking on the private service providers in competition in regions where they are already providing a fairly good service - check this. But, at the same time, they will not allow competition of any kind in their existing turfs - check this.

 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

early by 3 years, rather

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@ Syedbhai

Yi was a proven service in 06-07, well before Mysore's 'intelligent' system was even conceived, and KSRTC officials were aware of it. But, I expect home grown solutions have no appeal, particularly for monopoly government organisations, when economics has lost significance as a criterion.
 

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

We need YI or need more comprehensive?

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Murali Sir,

All these days I avoided commenting on YI. But I think time has come to let it go. The way I understood YI is just a tool to know the arrival of the next bus or its current status. To me is a good feature but relies on the digital information from the Bus GIS location etc. To that extent I am sure it is useful and excellent tool.

Having engaged both BMTC and KSRTC (not at such close quarters like you), for good productive PT operation, they both need technology, systems and trained personnel to serve the people they should. When they have the technology to grab the info in real time, many wonderful tools and features can be implemented for public good.

For some reasons, both the management heads have not put thier faith in exploring ways to bring in the technology for digitizing the information (routes, schedules, fares, bookings, cancellations/additions) etc and making use of the data for operation, management and control.

It is sad that the entire Indian IT sector provides tech solutions to the world, but our local agencies are still debating to make use of it.

Take KSRTC itself. Their current website publishes the information based on the data which is not processed in real time from a centralized database, but from a static page. Praja team had done thorough analysis of their current state and suggested a phased plan to migrate to newer technology solution. They just took the suggestions for website UI changes, but ignored the real recommendations. One of reason quoted was that many of their booking agents has only dailup connectivity, therefore can not upgrade to faster connectivity. My take is their technical team couldn't grasp and comprehend the solution.

http://praja.in/en/blog/kbsyed61/2009/08/06/ksrtc-website-need-redefine-its-existance

BMTC is not ahead from KSRTC in this game. During the Bus Day campaign preparation, we struggled very hard to get the latest Volvo schedule. The reason was the information was not available in electronic format. All was available in paper form. No wonder their website displays information which is outdated, incomplete and stale. For useful purposes, data needs to be in realtime.

Therefore my suggestion to both BMTC and KSRTC is they should invest in getting the technology and systems to convert their paper based process and information into digital form. Once the information is avilable in electronic form, tools and applications can be built and integrated for public and management purposes including website, YI etc.

Imagine if BMTC can provide realtime information, tools like YI can be provided on mobile devices, phones, websites and info kiosks.

Syed

 

kbsyed61's picture

Need to know from KSRTC!

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SB,

These are the questions I have for KSRTC?

  1. What is their vision and plans for next 5-10 years?
  2. What is the policy and process to introduce the new route, cancel a route?
  3. How does the different types of service gets accorded - Ordinary, Fast, Express, SD etc.
  4. What is the current state of ticket reservations? Manual, online etc.
  5. What is current state of processing data for schedules, routes etc?
  6. Information on connectivity? In their territory, do all the district and Taluq HQs have connectivity to B'lore?
  7. Do all villages have connectivity to B'lore and other major nearby towns even if they have to change over?
  8. Does the district to district, town-to-town connectivity is 100%?
  9. What is the current state and plans for Staff trainings on safety, conservation and customer service?
  10. What are the plans in terms of upgrading the Bus stands with people friendly amenities?
  11. What are the plans to attract daily travelers with integrated smart fare system?

Will post more in coming days.

-Syed

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

100% Agree with Syed

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It is sad that the entire Indian IT sector provides tech solutions to the world, but our local agencies are still debating to make use of it."

I have no further comment than joining voice with Syed. Probably there is a fear factor within all government agencies that IT would take away their(staff) life in numeral ways.

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
murali772's picture

Yes, there's a lot beyond MIS & PIS

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@ Syedbhai

In the specific post, I was referring to Passenger Infn systems, and Management Infn systems, covered under the Rs 19 cr contract.

Now, as already mentioned earlier, Yi was based on feeds received from Mobiapps, who had a contract with BMTC for installing and maintaining GPS devices on select buses (all the Volvo's operating then were covered), and providing BMTC with MIS according to some 20 odd parameters. So, most of what is proposed to be covered under KSRTC's Rs 19 cr contract for Mysore city services were already being provided to BMTC, way back in 06-07 at a much lower cost. What's new may be the display systems, and there's some talk of training. But, for all that, is an expenditure of Rs 19 cr justified? And, I don't think Yi is being provided.

Whatever, since Mr Gaurav Gupta is in-charge, I am prepared to give the benefit of doubt. But, Mr Gupta is also capable of judgmental errors:))).

And, like you have pointed out, MIS and PIS are only a small, though significant, part of the whole. There's indeed a lot more that needs to be done. You certainly can expect Mr Gupta to deliver.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Excellent online booking system

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4. What is the current state of ticket reservations? Manual, online etc?

I have been using it frequently of recent for booking for my daughter's visits home, during breaks from her college in Chennai. I would rate it excellent, on par with IRCTC's services, if not better.

As to the travel experience, I'll perhaps get my daughter to post after she undertakes the trips on Sept 9th & 12th.


 

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

okay, back to the topic, @Vasanth

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alright, let us not get lost into specifics or tactical things. The thing is to get engaged with KSRTC, and put some serious time into analyzing what they do, how well they do it, and what feedback we can give them to make them do better.

Unlike in the case of BMTC, at least I am not a frequent user. Without people like Vasanth (regular user), we will be doing theoritical discussions.

Look fwd to Vasanth or other KSRTC users/lovers/haters posting comprehensive suggestions or criticism for KSRTC.

swamy's picture

start saar, janata will join

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u start something, ppl will see ur work and writing, and help u.

Naveen's picture

Tech in bus operations

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One of reason quoted was that many of their booking agents has only dailup connectivity, therefore can not upgrade to faster connectivity.

PC penetration & use is still very low in India & the system of bookings is dominated via 'phone calls. Whilst technology is a necessity for improving management of operations & corporations like KSRTC /BMTC will be more & more dependent on it in the years ahead, it is also true that the vast network that they have to deal with & operate on a daily basis are lagging far behind since they do not want to invest more than absolutely necessary, & this includes the many different strands of society that use their buses, primarily due to low economic conditions.

I had noted that bookings done online were mostly for airavat class of volvo buses - I had spoken to some of the staff & also the conductor at the bus terminus at mangalore & they had confirmed that only airavat buses had people using the online booking facility, mostly.

This indicates that investing hugely in bus information systems may not necessarily be used by the vast majority, not yet anyway. Investing in technology goes hand in hand with sufficient number of people (such as booking clerks, passengers, etc) using such services. If KSRTC /BMTC invests hugely on services that remain unused or used only by a small section, it would not be worth it - unfortunately, this is where we stand today.

Real time arrival /departures is desirable (especially for BMTC) no doubt - the Mysore experiment by KSRTC may give an answer to the question of whether it has come of age in India.

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

Use of mobile based IT should be thought

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 Strategy of any government agency should be making IT enabled services reachable to grass-root level. Now almost all common people have mobiles in hand, probably mobile-enabled(SMS/WAP based) services should be given equal importance. I have seen even though internet has not reached commons,SMS has reached. I am happy to join any efforts towards it.

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
idontspam's picture

PC penetration & use is still

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PC penetration & use is still very low in India & the system of bookings is dominated via 'phone calls.

Agree, The front end reservation needs to be local language phone based via easily accessible 3 digit numbers. This will help in places where the agents have not reached. Even SMS based booking systems can enable some villages with bad connectivity, no computers, but a few educated people to become agents. Where access to kiosks or manned counters at bus stands is a luxury, they can pay the driver/conductor against a telebooked/SMSbooked reference number and claim the boarding pass. The driver can authenticate the booking reference number via handheld in the bus.

Regardless, the back end information systems for tracking and monitoring cannot be compromised. At a bare minimum they will allow people to print a time table and display at bus stand even if they dont need LED panels everywhere.

 

Vasanth's picture

Fleet

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I have been frequently travelling to Mysore using KSRTC and even to Mangalore and Mantralaya side.

Following is the type of fleet, you may all be knowing just to reiterate:

Karnataka Saarige - Most common and the bread and butter bus of KSRTC with 2+3 seating.

Semi Deluxe - Little wider and fabric seats of 2+2 - Almost extinct now . Shares same engine and chasis as Karnataka Saarige.

Rajahamsa - Bit powerful engine with Air suspension usually used  more for Long Distance Travel. Again 2+2 with Semi Sleeper Seats. Mostly Leyland front Engines.

Sheethal - A/C with seating setup of Karnataka Saarige and engine and supsension of Rajahamsa.Leyland engines.

Mayura - A/C without airsuspension and semi sleeper seats similar to Rajahamsa. Almost extinct now.

Meghadootha - A/C with Air suspension and front engine. Seating setup of Rajahamsa. Again most Leyland engines.

Corona Sleeper - This is KSRTC's sleeper A/C service running on rear engine Ashok Leyland Corona

Ambaari - Corona Sitting A/C , bus is similar to Volvo, but not as powerful.

Airavat - Volvo A/C with 2+2 sitting setup.

Apart from this, there is Kai Thoridalli Nilluve and Graaminga Saarige service for Villages.

Naveen's picture

SMS bus bookings & likely problems

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The front end reservation needs to be local language phone based via easily accessible 3 digit numbers. This will help in places where the agents have not reached. Even SMS based booking systems can enable some villages with bad connectivity, no computers, but a few educated people to become agents.

How will instant payments be made with SMS bookings when committed /bonafide agents are not in place ? How will misuse such as black marketeering & recovery from cancellations & no-shows be held in check when a committed booking agent (who is expected to shoulder such burden) is not used & if there are no means to collect payment when a ticket is booked ?

Payments at booking are a necessity, & this requires the banking system also to be available on mob phs in those places where certified agents have not reached yet ! This again involves overall tech upgradation in remote places where there isn't a booking agent, not to mention the part costs that will be transferred to these people, who can ill afford it. Thus, it'll all come around full circle with few takers.

Agents become a necessity where there are volumes, & commisions have to be dished out (no individual will do it as free service). Such is already in place as it is, perhaps without SMS, but with a landline or dialup service.

the back end information systems for tracking and monitoring cannot be compromised. At a bare minimum they will allow people to print a time table and display at bus stand even if they dont need LED panels everywhere.

Again, what is to prevent people from vandalizing these expensive systems. Overhead protected LED displays are an answer to prevent such acts, but again, investments run high.

idontspam's picture

Cell phone payments

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 Payments at booking are a necessity

A cellphone payment can show up on your bill at the end of the month for postpaid. No need for credit card. Only pincode+mobilenumber ack is required. This needs KSRTC to tie up with mobile operators. This is already being done in other countries already. 

Again, what is to prevent people from vandalizing these expensive systems

Backend systems are housed in KSRTC Data Centers. Not in bus stands. These may or may not feed information to stands. KSRTC already has these to a better degree than BMTC, as they have online booking.

Naveen's picture

Cell payments

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A cellphone payment can show up on your bill at the end of the month for postpaid. No need for credit card. Only pincode+mobilenumber ack is required. This needs KSRTC to tie up with mobile operators. This is already being done in other countries already. 

You would probably have to approach TRAI for such to be permitted, not KSRTC. Why will cell providers agree unless there is some incentive in it for them ? If TRAI makes it mandatory to help out public services, they will do it. In any case, there will be some quantum of the cost transferred to users, for sure.

Again, what is to prevent people from vandalizing these expensive systems.

My statement above was with reference to what you mentioned earlier, quoted below (not about backend systems in the safe custody of KSRTC) :

At a bare minimum they will allow people to print a time table and display at bus stand even if they dont need LED panels everywhere.

silkboard's picture

okay, so how many would come for a meeting with KSRTC?

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Lets go meet them. For lack of crisp agenda right now, let us go ask for data on their operations, same things we have asked BMTC a few times (and tey gave all info last year). Numbers will help us understand them better.

Ravi_D's picture

I'm in....

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... (for a meeting w/ KSRTC) as long as it is not right in the middle of a work-day.

idontspam's picture

IMTC only?

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 Can we do one on IMTC only for warm ups? Since they are nodal agency, understand timelines, progress, Connectivity with SWR etc? Will give us a good idea about the plans. The blue prints need a little explanation for non civil people like us.

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

@syed Its via GPRS only

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Yes, you are right, feature is already available. That requires an GPRS connection and internet in phone. I think we were talking about booking via SMS or on call, because most of common people dont have GPRS connection and browsing enabled phones.

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
Naveen's picture

Not only GPRS, need a credit card too

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...for booking KSRTC tkts via mobile phones.

Naveen's picture

KSRTC Meet

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I can make it too.

Also, need to check IMTCs - or will they turn out to be like TTMCs that stand out like a sore thumb :) ?

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

Lunch break during KSRTC bus journey

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 I have seen people complaining that KSRTC drivers have some set-up with local hotel owners and thus passengers are forced to have lunch in non-standard hotels and during odd times. Does KSRTC have any published process to select hotels, food quality, break time, certification etc? 

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
ss87's picture

Returning from chikmaglurthe

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Returning from chikmaglurthe 1330CKMBNG Airavat the bus usually used to stop at Kamat or at Mayura-but off late both the mangalore and chikmanglur vlvo coming to bangalore stop at Hotel ganesh bhavan-reason for this change-not known

Vasanth's picture

KSRTC's Unjustified Fare Hikes on Bangalore-Mysore route

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 KSRTC regularly increases fares especially where it is patronized more. Bangalore-Mysore route is one such route.

KSRTC regularly without any reason will increase the fares for premiere services by 10 rupees minimum to almost 25 rupees in one shot many times. Also they steeply increase price for all sector of buses when there is hike in diesel prices. Apart from this, there will be hike in prices saying Summer Special and Dasara Special. Dasara Special price hike is really crazy, instead of attracting more passengers, it is demoting them. After Dasara or Summer is completed, they won't reduce the prices.

People tend to drive down since highway is 4 lane now. This will increase the traffic, especially during Dasara season, it takes 4-5 hours to normal 2 1/2 hour drive.

Tracking back the Volvo fares from 2003, 

2004 - 120 Rupees

2005 - 135 Rupees

2006 - 150 Rupees

2007 - 160, then 180 rupees.

2008 - 200 rupees, then 225 rupees (Diesel price hike, whereas no reduction after reduction in diesel prices).

2009 - 240, then 250 rupees.

2010 - 260 rupees.

Shatabdi Express between Bangalore-Mysore was 300 rupees in 2003 and now it has reduced down to 275 rupees. If we compare the travel time and comfort, nowhere Airavat service is worth 260 rupees. Many times we get junk old Volvo buses which hardly makes 80 kph and take around 2 hours 30 minutes from satellite bus stand to Mysore with lots of noise in the cabin.

Whereas we have LHB Shatabdi service which provide cool drink, chocolates and biscuits, 1 litre mineral water with journey time of only 1 hour 50 minutes from CBD Mysore to CBD Bangalore. 

Apart from this, there is lobbying for Volvo services. Some officials wanted Volvo like service for middle class and they started a class of bus called 'Sheethal' in 2008. This was air-conditioned air suspension bus with normal seats, no pushback seats with powerful engine at just Rs. 105 when Volvo fare was around 225. It used to be on par with Volvo on Road and many times even overtaking it.  It became quite popular robbing the 'sensible' passengers from Volvos. Volvos do not stop for coffee break, same was with this bus and used to cover in 2 hrs - 2 hrs 15 mins.

To lobby this, KSRTC installed 60 kph speed lock to Sheethal and started a coffee break. Due to the speed lock, A/C does not perform well, bus has slowed down like anything and runs below speed compared to even normal buses and also increased the price steeply. Right now it is 160 rupees.

Other variants like Megadhootha which is A/C with push back seats and Rajahamsa non A/C push back seats are all awful. I paid hefty 180 rupees once in Meghadhoota. We have to go near the vent to take some air. It started raining and rain was pouring from individual A/C vents of the bus !!!

Even in normal buses known as 'Karnataka Saarige' buses, if it rains, it will pour inside the buses. Buses are maintained very poorly.

Now in Bangalore-Mysore route, only competitor to KSRTC is Sumos and Indicas that run from Sirsi Circle to Mysore charging 120 rupees and reaching in almost same time as Volvos. But totally unsafe. But the aged people who cannot get onto buses or trains and do not have their own cars/buses use this service.

Second major competitor is Indian Railways.

In this route, we need good private operators such as VRL, MRL etc.. to start their services too. Murali Sir will second me here.

Vasanth's picture

Isuzu A/C buses becoming popular

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 Swaraj Mazda has now became Swaraj Isuzu and they have introduced luxury A/C buses on the lines of Volvo and Benz. This bus comes with 7 speed manual transmission as compared to 6 speed manual transmission of Benz and Volvo, priced lower  to own and maintain, offers better fuel efficiency. Lot of private operators like VRL are going to these Isuzu buses.

This is a good website to see  the report of luxury bus travel of various operators:

http://travelbyvolvo.blogspot.com/

 

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