Changing the way people travel

When authorities in Bangalore need to decongest the streets and reduce the environmental impact, buses from Volvo are a part of the solution. The middle and upper income segments are gradually leaving their vehicles at home and opting for public transport.
Volvo bus in Bangalore, India

Honks, beeps and shrill screeches – Cacophony rules Bangalore’s streets during the rush hour. Impatience and restlessness is in the air. Buses, trucks, two-wheelers, cars, lorries, cyclists, pedestrians and even the odd dog, jostle for space. In this chaos, Volvo driver Guru Gowda calmly navigates his bus towards the IT district of Whitefield.

Inside the bus the atmosphere is almost surreal. Soft music from the FM sets the ambiance and the temperature is just right. Passengers, mostly software engineers and managers, either read the newspaper or fiddle with their Blackberries and iPods. The commute of one and half hours is long, but it doesn’t look like anybody minds!

Volvo Buses have today become a common sight on Bangalore’s roads. Sleek and silent, the red and orange buses symbolize the modernization of India’s IT capital. Like any other
Indian city Bangalore too faces the challenge of providing high quality modes of transport to its citizens. In addition, authorities need to come to terms with environmental problems, make roads safer and reduce the stress on the infrastructure – all within a tightly allocated budget. The adoption of Volvo Buses is a step towards this direction.

While the intra city bus service was introduced in around four cities a few years ago, this year it has expanded to 12. The government has realized that they need to modernize cities and discourage the use of personal vehicles, and they can do so only by offering people a better mode of transport, such as modern and comfortable buses.

The formula definitely seems to be working. Prabhu R, Business Controller at Novozymes South Asia Pvt Ltd, used to carpool with his colleagues to commute to work. But he’s now opting  for the Volvo bus. Prabhu says, “Driving all the way from Hosakerahalli to ITPL (International Technology Park Ltd) is extremely tiring. The bus does take a little more time, but it is a lot more comfortable, safe and economical!”

One of the city’s most popular services is the airport transfer. The new Bangalore International Airport is almost 50 kilometers from the city and hiring a cab is seen as an expensive proposition. Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) then decided to launch a fleet of Volvo buses to the airport, the fare for which is only a fraction of the cost for a cab. The service was hailed by citizens and has now grown to become a preferred mode of transport.
Anil Bhatia, a businessman from Delhi, says, “I am glad that my friends recommended the Volvo service to me. It is very economical and I wish the Delhi airport too had such a service.”

Volvo Buses have been received by the Government of Karnataka with much enthusiasm. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has the distinction of being the first Indian public sector enterprise to introduce Volvo intra city buses in 2006. Policy makers understand the importance of public transportation to come to terms with environmental issues and decongesting the roads, resulting in a positive and consistent uptake of Volvo Buses.

More recently, 200 new Volvo buses were ordered by Bangalore city under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM), a country-wide $20billion city modernization scheme launched by the Government of India. Adding on to the current strength of 300, these buses will form the most modern bus fleet in India helping make public transport an attractive alternative while supporting development plans of the city.

Ravi Kumar, driver of airport transfer, says, “Earlier I used to drive the normal BMTC buses. When this project was launched, I was one of the drivers hand-picked for special training. When I first drove the Volvo bus, it was a special moment for my family and me. The launch had been in the news for a while, and at least for a few days, I was a hero!”

Facts: 80 percent of all passengers using public transportation go by bus. Buses are easy to use and demand little more than bus stops from the infrastructure.

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