Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Give room to sit back and relax

Give room to sit back and relax

As KSRTC is about to complete the three-month trial run of the Mercedes-Benz bus service between Bangalore and Mysore, DNA's reporter Shwetha S travels to the 'city of palaces' in the coach to check its comfort levels

Shwetha S



EXCITEMENT was mounting as I waited at the Kempegowda bus station for the Mercedes-Benz bus on Saturday last. The blue coach with yellow curtains finally arrived at 11.45am near the Bangalore-Mysore platform.
It looked smarter and stood out immediately from the luxury coach crowd.
I was the first to get in, and took a middle seat. As the weekend crowd poured in, all the seats were occupied in minutes.
The first surprise came when the bus started moving. At first, I could not feel it. The fleeting landscapes through the window alone made me realise this. The run was so smooth and silent. The driver then stepped on the gas and the vehicle began moving at 110km.
More surprises came as I began talking to my co-passengers.
First I turned to a woman, Rohini Shekar, sitting beside me and asked her how she felt.
"It's the same as when I took my first Volvo ride. The only difference is these air suspension seats are much better than in Volvo. And the engine is so good one does not feel the sense of movement," Shekar said.
Rajesh Kumar, another commuter, was blunt.
"I did not realise I was inside a Mercedes coach. As the other Mysore-bound Volvo buses were full, I hurriedly hopped into this. It looks like Volvo as the passenger facilities are more or less the same," Kumar said.
Similar comments came from other passengers.
Mukundh Manohar, another commuter, had one more point to add.
"The seats look great but they are not comfortable for long journeys. We cannot recline fully. It the number of seats are reduced, there will be extra legroom for passengers," he said.
As for myself, I felt the space between the rows of seats too less for comfortable recline. The two LCD screens were too small to give clear view for everyone. Despite the promises, the coach had no facilities to charge one's mobile or laptop. Although the audio system was of top quality, there was no audio-visual facility to brief passengers about the places of tourist interest located along the way. But the air-conditioning system here was better than the one used in Volvo buses.
The driver was all praise for the engine, OM-926LA . It produced no emissions during operation and was virtually noise-free.
For maximum safety, it has electronically controlled braking system and acceleration skid control system.
"They make the drive smooth, especially at sharp turns. During rainy season, Volvo and other buses have chances of skidding. But Mercedez has a strong grip on the roads," he said.
"This is the final phase for trial runs and we will extend the service for some more days. In the mean time, we'll study the public opinion about this service to decide whether to extend it on a regular basis. If seats are to be reduced for extra comforts, fares may go up," an official of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation said as I got down at Mysore at 3pm.
The return journey in a Volvo made me feel the difference. The usual sound and vibrations returned as the vehicle gathered speed and negotiated the many speedbreakers on the way. At 7.30pm, I was back in Bangalore.
Although it was a nice journey, the travel did not reach the level of a luxurious experience

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