OTHERS

Volvo buses to hit City roads by December

BANGALORE, JULY 6. Bus commuters in Bangalore are in for some good news. ``Articulated'' buses with 150 to 175 seats and three pneumatic doors and plenty of room for standing passengers, made by Volvo India, will hit the City roads by December.

The BMTC is reported to have completed its final survey and trial runs of the Metro Bus System as the new services are likely to be called. Views of bus commuters and other road-users have been considered. The State Government has sent a proposal for financial assistance to the Swedish Government Agency for aid. Once the funds are sanctioned, formal orders will be placed with Volvo India, according to sources.

The three-door model of the bus with 150 to 175 seats is likely to cost Rs. 15 crores, while the five-door version with 250 seats may cost Rs. 20 crores. The investment is considered cost- effective since the BMTC survey found that each articulated bus will be equal to four of the buses currently used on City roads.

The Volvo buses are built on a specially-designed chassis. The new buses will be on a lower chassis, within easy reach of the disabled, the elderly and schoolchildren. The buses used for trial runs have individual ergonomically designed seats and wider aisles with space for those standing. The buses have also been designed for local roads, taking into account the sharp curves peculiar to Bangalore and the gradients on certain roads.

Other plans will come into reality as the two articulated buses start plying regularly between Jayanagar 4th Block and Shivajinagar, the route already used for trial runs. The BMTC, BMP and the Traffic Police will join hands to design dedicated lanes for these longer and bigger buses. The lanes will be designed for these buses, and except BMTC buses, other vehicles, especially two-wheelers, will not be allowed to use them. Specially designed boarding and alighting platforms at bus-stops will be built.

Bus-bays and passenger shelters will be constructed during the first phase of the renovation of the Jayanagar Bus Terminal. As the longer buses are gradually introduced on more routes, the terminals at Shivajinagar, City Market and Majestic will also be modernised.

With the articulated buses plying regular schedules by the year end, the BMTC plans to overhaul its operations. The smaller buses will be scheduled to run on designated ``feeder routes'' with bus-stops where passengers can get down and take Volvo buses for their onward journey.

Fares are likely to be more, taking into account the higher operating costs involved. They are being worked out and will have to cover the cost of financing the buses as well on the terms stipulated by the Swedish agency. Passengers may pay more if they are assured of faster travel and more comforts, as past experience has shown.

The introduction of Volvo buses may have another fallout. The BMTC may reintroduce ``road trains'' of two buses combined, which used to run on City roads till some years ago. These may be reserved for select routes where such buses can ply safely and with room for other vehicles.