Monday, November 26, 2007

Riding high on a Volvo

Riding high on a Volvo
With Vajra — the BMTC’s fleet of Volvos — Bangaloreans have discovered a weapon to fight the traffic jams, pollution and potholes that turn their commutes into a struggle. Ashwini Y S finds out what makes this swanky vehicle a hit with commuters

Bangalore: The bright red colour is welcoming and infuses you with a warm feeling. One of the revolutionary initiatives in silicon city — Vajra — is Bangalore Metropolitan Road Transport Corporation’s (BMTC) very own intracity Volvo buses, and they are not merely an eye candy.
The plush interiors have caught the fancy of many a commuter, who otherwise shied away from using public transport. Vajras have changed that and more in the attitude and approach of the cash rich Bangalorean. Apart from offering a smooth hassle-free ride, the low-floor buses are disabled and senior citizen-friendly.
What started as just the introduction of two buses in January 2006, have now hit the bar of 48, with BMTC planning to add 20 more to its fleet. Over 1,000 Vajras are expected to ply in a few years.
So what makes these buses tick? The Times of India decided to interact with commuters who take the Vajras, foresaking their vehicles to travel around in the city.
A random survey conducted recently foud that 882 citizens have shifted to Volvos. Of these 277 have shifted from two-wheelers, 178 from four wheelers, 165 from autos and 262 from BMTC or office buses.
“The Volvos are good compared to BMTC buses. They are cool, thanks to the AC, and I get to save at least 20 minutes everyday as there not too many stops,’’ says Vilma, a beautician who works at a mall on Hosur Road.
Time and the fact that it is not crowded seem to be the USP of the Vajras, despite the fares being a bit on the higher end.
Kalyan Sundaram, an employee of Siemens, who was travelling from the Kempegowda bus stand towards Koramanagala, says he had never used public transportation, until the Vajras. “They are not crowded and one reaches their destination faster when compared with other vehicles. I easily save half an hour everyday.’’ Sundaram says the buses are tourist-friendly with the driver and conductor ready to guide tourists.
“BMTC should remove the ordinary buses and introduce more Volvo buses. In fact, it would be ideal to start a mini-Volvo bus,” feels Murali Ram Shastry, who works in a pharma company near Narayana Hrudyalaya on Hosur road. Shastry is again one of those who stopped using his two-wheeler, after the introduction of the Volvo.
Interestingly, the fares are not scaring off passengers. “I think the ticket prices are fair. In fact, Volvos are a welcome change in India. There is a feel good factor when you travel in these buses. They should have more of them,’’ says Rakesh, a software engineer, another Volvo regular.
So why not hop onto a Volvo and help Bangalore breathe a little easier?
What’s the noise all about?
Euro-III engine meets all environmental norms and requirements. Ultra modern low-floor bus has kneeling mechanism which suits the local road level condition. Auto transmission with in built retarder, equipped with Electronic Breaking System ensures smooth ride. High capacity (denso 600) AC system. Very low turning radius to facilitate easy maneouverability. Maintenance and trouble shooting through user-friendly display stem. Ample space to accommodate 90 passengers with 38 seats. Reverse view and passenger door camera to pre-empt mishaps and ensure safety. Doors fitted with touch senses as safety measure. Large windows for a panoramic view Wheel-chair ramp for physically challenged persons. GPS and GIS tracking systems in all buses. Yelli Iddira — a passenger information facility which provides information on the bus’ location through an SMS on 99456 34666. LCD panels inside the vehicle for information and commercial ads.


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