Buses on the Fast Track this Season

Mercedes Benz has finally decided to address the Indian bus market

Published: Jan 8, 2010 12:41:43 PM IST
Updated: Jan 8, 2010 03:41:35 PM IST

The market for buses in India has really begun to shape up. This is clear from the mood at Auto Expo 2010. A space which for many decades had belonged to Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland and Volvo, is now seeing quite a few players getting serious about the opportunity in public transportation.

To begin with, Mercedes Benz launched its 3-axle intercity luxury bus priced at Rs. 85 lakh to Rs. 90 lakh. This is an interesting change of strategy for the German luxury car maker. Mercedes Benz initially entered the Indian market with its 2-axle bus a few years back and had decided that it would solely concentrate on business from private operators. It wanted to stay away from government contracts.

Mercedes Benz launched its 3-axle intercity luxury bus priced at Rs. 85 lakh to Rs. 90 lakh
Mercedes Benz launched its 3-axle intercity luxury bus priced at Rs. 85 lakh to Rs. 90 lakh
But, the downturn last year meant that quite a few operators weren’t in a position to arrange financing and Mercedes had a tough time. So to de-risk its operation, the company is now in talks with many state transport undertakings to sell its 2-axle and 3-axle buses. Wilfried Aulbur, managing director of Mercedes Benz said that the company is in advanced stage of talks with the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).

Typically, it takes four years for a private operator to make money on a luxury coach. “It depends a lot on the routes you ply; and the money making routes are pretty much in the southern and western part of India,” said A. Sadik, director, Parveen Travels, Chennai. Sadik is the first person to buy a Mercedes 3-axle bus for his fleet. It will be interesting to see how Mercedes Benz breaks into the bus market where ‘Volvo’ is synonymous with intercity travel. Mumbai-ites can also look forward to some comfort. Sunil Savla, owner of Neeta Volvo, a Mumbai-based operator has placed orders for about 10 buses.

I also bumped into Siddhartha Lal, managing director of Eicher Motors, who was quite kicked about the segment. In fact Eicher Motors also launched a semi low-floor city bus which will be available in diesel and CNG variants. (Lal is really ambitious and he is very serious about his business, but more on him later). Then there was a concept hybrid bus (which runs on a lithium ion battery) from Tata Motors and Marco Polo, which is expected to be launched early next year, along with a plug-in CNG hybrid bus from Ashok Leyland, code-named HYBUS, which would be used during the upcoming Commonwealth games.

PS: Ratan Tata was at the Mercedes Benz stall and was heard to remark – “It’s the best stall at the Expo.” Now that’s some compliment, isn’t it?

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  • Chinmay Darwhekar

    Had the worst experience travelling with Neeta Travels. Firstly, we were told by the Ticket Vendor that Mercedes Benz would take us to Mumbai from Pune but we found out the bus to almost 5 to 10 yrs old. Secondly, the A/c was not working throughout the journey and there was nobody on behalf of neeta to handle our grievances. Thirdly, the bus was empty so they were picking passengers wherever they find anybody standing, this experience was nothing less than sitting in S.T. I did a mistake by choosing neeta travels as the mode of transport who would make my travel comfortable but I was completely wrong. Hence I would advice all the readers to think before choosing neeta travels.

    on Apr 28, 2014
  • Bharat

    This bus been involve in many accident plus rough drivers. And I was been one today cause the bus has only one head light and I was crossing Jamnagar road at Jain temple near Seth nagar rajkot gujrat at 7pm and this bus all most have killed me, thanks Jain god.so I want to tell their owner should know. I will never travel in neeta again.i like to warn driver to take care of their bus head light first and take care of people in their bus plus on road. Or else i am reporting police tomorrow. Thanks

    on Jan 14, 2014
  • Fpb

    I found the following feedback form on their website which accepts complaints. If enough of consumers complain, surely they will have to take note. Here is the web page for complaints : http://www.neetabus.in/feedback.php

    on Nov 18, 2010
  • Sharjeel Sayed

    Choosing Neeta Volvo ( http://www.neetatoursandtravels.com ) was the worst mistake I could make for my Hyderabad-Mumbai journey on 5th April 2010.The bus ( No. 8586 ) started a full one hour late from Lakdikapul Stop (8:45 PM as opposed to the promised 7:45 PM) and reached a 2 hours late in Mumbai (11:30 AM at Chembur as opposed to the promised 9:30 AM).The seats were all cramped with no foot rest.Bus was extremely smelly and they were playing loud blaring music (90's Nadeem Shravan songs) and a pirated move ( De Dana Dan ) till 12 midnight making it impossible to sleep.They paid no heed to passenger complaints on the sound. They were stopping frequently for picking up courier and the halts used to be for 30 minutes sometimes. They stopped twice for food, and both times the dhabas/restaurants were extremely bad and pricey.The dinner halt was at 12 AM at a shitty joint where the toilets and the food were comparable in quality.The halt at Lonavala for breakfast ( which was at 9.30 AM) was owned by Neeta travels and they charged us Rs.40 for 3 stale and miniature Idlis.The toilets here were badly maintained too,surprising that they were owned by Neeta Travels. The staff was extremely rude especially with lady passengers and were not informing the passengers,especially new visitors to Mumbai who had requested for stop announcements. And I paid Rs 1000 per ticket for this shitty service whereas other operators provide better services for the same price.I booked my tickets on the same day as the travel and Neeta was the only option available on redbus.in ( no prizes for guessing why). I was also surprised to find that two other passengers had been double booked and were allotted the same seats (13,14) as us, but since they alighted later , the conductor Imran ( 09290913606) "conveniently" seated them further behind on seats 15,16, much to their protest. Their online booking and feedback service is pathetic too so I had to resort to redbus.in for booking and providing my feedback.Surprisingly their website does not have a single email id listed for support, contact or feedback. Mr. Sunil Savla (Neeta founder and proprietor) , I hope you are reading this since your company has no mechanism for taking customer feedback. Ticket No: TC5488488662,PNR # 11008178

    on Apr 9, 2010
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