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Old 12th November 2012, 13:10   #16
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Originally Posted by raju2512 View Post
If IR introduces overnight full A/C express trains in routes like Chennai - Bangalore , Chennai - Trichy - Madurai, most of the private operators will be out of business. A 18 coach train with 2A/3A accommodation will easily carry 1000 people and remove around 20 buses from the route.
Agree entirely. But the problem is that IR cannot easily introduce trains even if it wants to. Most key routes don't have spare line capacity. IR requires massive investment in tracks and signalling to augment capacity, followed by investment in rolling stock. But sadly our political class is only interested in keep second class fares artificially low for headline-grabbing, and not in providing usable capacity. So we have the ironical outcome of poor people (in whose name rail fares are kept low) end up paying more and traveling by bus, because there simply aren't enough trains

So overnight buses will continue to gain market share in the foreseeable future. And I am not talking of Volvos alone. There are thousands of 'ordinary' buses doing overnight routes with people traveling in uncomfortable and unsafe conditions, all because of chronic underinvestment by IR.
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Old 12th November 2012, 13:18   #17
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Originally Posted by raju2512 View Post
If IR introduces overnight full A/C express trains in routes like Chennai - Bangalore , Chennai - Trichy - Madurai, most of the private operators will be out of business. A 18 coach train with 2A/3A accommodation will easily carry 1000 people and remove around 20 buses from the route.
Such trains will surely reduce the number of buses, but not the extent you mention. The reason is simple - with a bus, you have more options of boarding points, departure time, and better still, alighting points. Most bus companies now provide a lot of options when it comes to alighting points.

Take the example of the Bangalore-Chennai Route: You have buses departing almost every 30 minutes through the day (different classes of service). The frequency goes up at night. With private operators, one can choose alighting points virtually anywhere in Chennai, right from Poonamalle till Velachery or places far away in OMR/ECR. The same exists in the opposite direction also. VRL offers pickups from places as far as Peena/Kengeri in Bangalore for many of their south bound buses.

For people like me, staying in South Bangalore, traveling to the city to board trains is a treacherous experience. The railways are also shifting many trains to Yeshwantpur (due to the lack of platform availability at Bangalore City - which is more due to the faulty layout of the station), which makes matters even worse for people in South Bangalore. For catching the Shatabdi leaving SBC at 1625hrs, a person from Electronic City/Bannerghatta road would have to leave home/office latest by 1445/1500hrs. At the same time, a journey to Madiwala would not take more than 20 minutes. A person from Electronic City area can board at the BETL Toll Gate/Hebbagodi itself! The actual running time for the bus is only 5~5.5hrs now - almost similar to the train! So why would one want to spend time and money to take a train, not to mention the horrendous booking experience on IRCTC that one has to go through.

A full AC train would only reduce the load of AC coaches in regular trains, and attract some bus passengers (especially the lot who travel by bus only when train tickets are not available). For many people, bus is still the most preferred mode of traveling.
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Old 13th November 2012, 00:02   #18
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Originally Posted by satyaanveshi View Post
As regards cost, driving one's own car would certainly be cheaper than Volvo tickets if there are 3-4 people traveling. But for 1-2 people, the bus works out cheaper.
That is where ride share comes to picture. For 2-4 like minded people could go together, it will be cost saving and fun too. Hope TBHP will take some initiative and start a ride match program. Private Ride Share is becoming more and more popular around the world, hope it will catch up with sectors like EKM-Bangalore, Bangalore-Chennai etc.

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Old 13th November 2012, 20:54   #19
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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The whole Intercity Bus operations business is illegal. If you look at the laws, there is no provision for anybody to operate busses between cities. You can have a stage carriage under license from the RTO.
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...The Operator is always on the losing side, the only People who benefit are Drivers, Manufacturers, Mechanics and Passengers. Just sit back and think, how many Operators have gone out of Business in the past 10 years, plenty

Puzhekadavil
Raj National Travels etc.
But Arun are these failures not because of improper management?
How many new operators have entered and are successful - see the roaring success of SRM.

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....Moral of the story -
You should have a passion for vehicles, its not one you run with your head, its more of the hearth that is involved, and never exceed your capacity, with 5 Busses running you can live in a mansion with a Q7 parked in your garage, but don't then let greed get the better of you
Here SRM is the exception as they have interests in various fields including Hospitality, education and media. They for sure runs this business only with their head and not with their heast - Imho.
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Old 16th November 2012, 12:16   #20
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

IR will be unable to bring in competition because of the earlier mentioned reason. Lack of infrastructure within itself to support the requirements. Moreover, I remember hearing rumours about a nexus between the Fleet operators and the IR officials in keeping off additional train services. Plus the added flexibility in boarding and stopover points is what keeping bus services preferred over IR. And the added IRCTC headaches !

That being said, it is kind of disheartening to see some operators going through tough times. The first casualties are the buses itself. How many of us have seen badly maintained volvos ! I always wondered how they manage to break even on the high upfront costs of volvos.

I think sleepers are getting popular because of the lower running costs and they can charge more as well. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a shift towards the sleeper model.
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Old 16th November 2012, 14:11   #21
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

I believe there exists a very strong lobbying within to ensure that trains do not run in a schedule that suits "most". To elaborate, take Kannur/Karwar -Mangalore -Bangalore train. It leaves Mangalore at 20:54 and reaches Bangalore by 08:55.
En route it touches Hassan and Mysore. If you add one hour to either side of journey to station then it is an absurd 14 hour journey while a volvo takes just above 7 hours to cover the same distance.

Story is further miserable if you consider journey hours from Karwar/Kannur!

Recently a gentleman told me it takes 12 hours to reach Karwar from Bangalore for a Bicycle enthusiast but train takes 18+ hours to cover same distance.
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Old 16th November 2012, 14:19   #22
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Originally Posted by anand_lukose View Post
IR will be unable to bring in competition because of the earlier mentioned reason. Lack of infrastructure within itself to support the requirements. Moreover, I remember hearing rumours about a nexus between the Fleet operators and the IR officials in keeping off additional train services. Plus the added flexibility in boarding and stopover points is what keeping bus services preferred over IR. And the added IRCTC headaches !
Agree regarding the nexus. This is no where as apparent as on the sector between Bangalore and Mangalore where there are just 2 trains that connect these 2 cities when compared to number of buses that ply. In fact, the rail lines took a long time to be reopened once it was gauge converted with freights operating for quite sometime (generally it is accepted practice to have only freights / slow running trains on newly laid lines) before passenger service could begin and that too after lot of protest.
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Old 16th November 2012, 18:48   #23
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

I think bus services will improve with extra facilities like Wifi(optional), charging points, Toilets. For the huge amount I'm paying, these things makes sense. Too early to compare with services in UK, but can take it as a target. I have used the coaches in UK and the services they have in them are too good. I just plugged in my laptop, watched movie after movie without disturbing anyone and it was comfortable too. I hate it when they play movies in a bus.
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Old 16th November 2012, 23:36   #24
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

a friend of mine had this theory that the only travels that seem to survive over times are ones that are owned by large business groups, and that by and large these are front businesses, used to mainly to convert black money to white and claim depreciation

I wonder if there is any truth in this

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Old 19th November 2012, 09:35   #25
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Originally Posted by raju2512 View Post
If IR introduces overnight full A/C express trains in routes like Chennai - Bangalore , Chennai - Trichy - Madurai, most of the private operators will be out of business. A 18 coach train with 2A/3A accommodation will easily carry 1000 people and remove around 20 buses from the route.
I agree with this thought process. A case in point is the route between Palakkad and Trivandrum. There used to be close to 30 odd buses running in this stretch till an overnight train - Amrita Express - was introduced a few years ago. Today there are no buses starting at Palakkad and ending the journey at Trivandrum; everyone shut shop.
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Old 19th November 2012, 10:19   #26
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Today there are no buses starting at Palakkad and ending the journey at Trivandrum; everyone shut shop.
A small correction here - Greenline Travels (Palakkad) still operates two AC seaters on this route. There are lots of CBE-TVM buses which have pick-ups at Palakkad as well.
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Old 19th November 2012, 10:27   #27
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

Bangalore Chennai is such a busy route, that almost all buses running on this route are going full, all trains including 2 class 3 tier sleeper (the basic one) is full, flights are almost full. I have experienced this 3 times in the past year. I believe there is lot of private vehicle (car) movement too, on the nice expressway quality roads. So at least on this route, bus operators going out of business doesn't seem likely.
Similar situation regarding Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Varodara, Mumbai-Ahmedabad travels.

On almost all these routes the time taken by buses is lesser than that taken by trains
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Old 19th November 2012, 12:59   #28
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
a friend of mine had this theory that the only travels that seem to survive over times are ones that are owned by large business groups, and that by and large these are front businesses, used to mainly to convert black money to white and claim depreciation

I wonder if there is any truth in this
Black money is converted to white by showing buses as fully loaded, while they are not really fully loaded. They are fully loaded mainly during weekends and holidays. I've seen numerous Pune-Mumbai buses with less than half of seats occupied during weekdays.
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Old 19th November 2012, 16:39   #29
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

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Bangalore Chennai is such a busy route, that almost all buses running on this route are going full, all trains including 2 class 3 tier sleeper (the basic one) is full, flights are almost full. I have experienced this 3 times in the past year. I believe there is lot of private vehicle (car) movement too, on the nice expressway quality roads. So at least on this route, bus operators going out of business doesn't seem likely.
Similar situation regarding Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Varodara, Mumbai-Ahmedabad travels.

On almost all these routes the time taken by buses is lesser than that taken by trains

Buses are the only option when you have not had a chance to book a flight ticket or a train ticket in advance. I had to take the Volvo from Pune to Bangalore last week and these are some of my observations

All the buses were running full due and most of the passengers seemed to be much younger than the average train / airline passenger. I guess these were students/ young software engineers going home for the holidays (this is just a guess and not a survey). the buses were pretty comfortable and cushioned road shocks well, though the seats were too close together for comfort.

The buses themselves were pretty efficiently run and staff behavior was ok. Again this is something you cannot compare with the arilines but there are somethings the bus industry could learn and invest in some training for their staff. I was pretty impressed how the drivers were swapping their time behind the wheel. But the one thing that was missing was comfortable sleeping bunk for the extra driver. I know this sounds a little too much, but I would rather trust my life to a well rested driver.

I did a quick back of the envelope calculation on the financials and I suppose most operators could make substantial profits just from the weekend trips. The only time it does not make sense for them is during weekdays when it is not possible to fill all the seats to cover costs of diesel, which my guess would be 20 seats on a 50 seater bus.

I guess the bus industry will survive as long as the other modes of transport can sort out the issues with ticket availability at affordable prices. Also the thing to remember is that IRs ticket prices are heavily subsidized. Remove these subsidies and a lot more people would opt for the bus.
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Old 19th November 2012, 17:00   #30
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Default Re: Intercity Bus Operations - Bubble waiting to burst?

My friends from Kerala tell me that the bus lobby has kept the Indian Railways from improving the connectivity between Bangalore and Major Kerala stations.

When I search for the number of trains it is indeed on lower side.
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