Some bus depots are lucky. They house various kinds of buses, old, new, fancy, premium, luxury, you name it.
In this post, I’m going to talk about luxury buses [Branded as such] of two specific depots: The Parel Depot which comes under the Mumbai division of MSRTC and Depot No. 4 of KSRTC’s Bangalore division. And no, Depot #4 here is not the same depot where Bus no 8954 was stationed.
Featuring the standard bus that almost all STUs in India have, the Volvo B7R, MSRTC successfully runs these buses on the Dadar-Pune, Thane-Swargate, Pune-Nashik, Mumbai-Aurangabad and Pune-Aurangabad routes, mostly as a non-stop service without a conductor. Branded as the Shivneri- a 17th century fort located in Junnar, Pune, where Chhatrapati Shivaji was born, it briefly made an appearance on the Kandivali-BKC route as the Shivneri Corporate. They were given a minor overhaul in 2015 with LED displays displaying the route up front.
In 2015 MSRTC started running trials of Scania’s Metrolink series. At that point, KSRTC had already completed trials of the twin-rear-axled Scania MetroLink and was in talks to procure them. MSRTC finally inducted several single-rear-axled buses into its fleet under the Shivneri brand. They are mostly seen on the Dadar East to Pune Station route.
Now, when an STU has a Volvo B7R, natural progression is when it acquires a Volvo B9R. And thus, MSRTC brought out the Ashwamedh, named after the Ashvamedha horse sacrifice ritual of the Vedic times. If, it was indeed an Ashwamedh sacrifice, MSRTC would probably conquering territories under Ashwamedh routes from competition, be it private or another STU. The Ashwamedh has the same fare structure as the Shivneri and is offically still called Shivneri on the ticketing system.
Evidently someone at the MSRTC design department was a fan of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather and decided to stick a picture of a Horse’s Head on the side of the bus. This person was also a Nationalist and put the Tiranga on the side, thus making this an ideal bus on the Delhi-Lahore route, to capture and recapture territory.
Now, as competition to the most outrageous livery, MSRTC decided it go a step further. It had a single rear axle Scania, might as well go for a twin rear axle one as well right? And thus, the Scania Ashwamedh was born.
This was not only competition to the previous Ashwamedh, but also, to KSRTC’s buses. The Scania Ashwamedh was originally meant for the Mumbai Central – Swargate – Hyderabad route, but was ultimately extended to the Dadar-Pune Station and Dadar – Swargate routes.
KSRTC has been the pioneer of intercity Volvo buses for a long time. It operates long distance routes from Mangalore, Mysore and Bangalore to Chennai, Trivandrum, Shirdi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune.
The original Airavat, as KSRTC named their Volvo B7Rs, retains the same livery even today. Here is a picture of the Airvat, clicked in 2007.
The Airavat refers to the Airavata, the mythical white elephant that carries the Hindu god Indra. The bus itself is white in colour, and well, one could very well argue that it looks like an elephant.
Natural progression resulted in KSRTC getting the Volvo B9R, named the Airavat Club Class, this was possibly what made MSRTC get the livery on their Ashwamedh Scanias.
This was followed by the Airavat Bliss and the Airavat Superia. Both featured an in-house pantry, with the Superia featured a Chemical Toilet.
Pictures of these two will make it here later. KSRTC has two low resolution pictures on its website.
Now, being the pioneer in luxury services, you can’t expect KSRTC to be behind the rest can you? No, thus, KSRTC became the first transco to get Scania MetroLink buses with a twin rear axle.
Nicknamed as the Airavat Diamond Class, it is currently KSRTC’s most premium service. Ticket prices are more or less on par with the Airavat Club Class.
The tagline on the side of both the Club Class and the Diamond Class says Sleep Like a Baby, and has a picture of a baby on a pram. Of course, it also features a teddy bear and a rubber ducky, so one is left scratching their heads wondering if it has a bath tub on the inside.
All said and done, I am a supporter of Capitalism and believe in Privatisation of certain services and Private Participation in essential services. However, I for one am not too enthused with Premium buses owned by Private Transport Companies for one simple reason: Bad maintenance. Private Transcos never maintain their buses well. One can observe Neeta Travels with either the Engine compartment open or missing its cover. Very few exceptions exist, such as Conti Travels or ABTX Travels, both based out of Coimbatore.
Note: Shivneri Bus without AC =Hirkani. Airavat Bus without AC =Rajhamsa.
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