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Old 3rd January 2011, 12:05   #16
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

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Originally Posted by george_kj
1. I have been reading a lot of positive reviews for the Volvo’s monster B9R's.But have no idea on the maintenance etc.

2. Mercedes 3-axle.. I really think " Follow the star is a crowd puller." But have heard many complaints about the ride and quality not being up to the mark of Volvo. Need inputs. With my requirements mentioned below , wouldn’t Merc be a better option?
In past 1 month I have taken the Mercedes coach 3 times for a distance of 250+kms.
It's just the hype "follow the star" Merc has created.
I would rate Volvo B7R pretty much higher in terms of ride comfort + speed.
The bus had run a mere 35K kms, it was already having suspension squeaks + lil bit of noise.
I was speaking with the driver last friday(31st Dec), He says he had a brake jam once and the acceleration , top speed is not upto the mark of a Volvo, but night driving is good, due to the projector lamps and spread of the light beam.
Anyday I would prefer a Volvo than a Merc Coach.
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Old 3rd January 2011, 12:18   #17
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

As of now at least there is no real distinction in between the Tata Hispano Globus, Merc and Volvo B7Rs and B9Rs from the point of view of the ticket prices, as my friends from the south tell me.

As far as the Tata Hispano Globus goes, yes I admit that there will be a slight problem in selling a Tata in the league of the Volvos. But I think purely as a product the Hispano Globus is no worse than the Volvo, the only difference is that the Volvo seem to be able to take a lot more beating than the Mercs or the Hispano Globus, without requiring that much regular maintainance. But you may also remember that any part replacements and service costs of a foreign manufacturer like Merc and Volvo will be much higher than that of a Volvo. Not to mention that you will get the superb service department of Tata with more than 800 service stations to solve your problems, pretty much at any milestone of any highway that you may be stuck on.

Thus if you can keep up the quality of the bus and the service, after a certain period of time the apprehensions of travelling in a Tata will I think disappear.

But the one thing that the Tata Hispano Globus has in its favour is the massive saving you will make in buying the bus.

Also I might add, that unlike about a decade ago, the Tata brand is not that far behind the international brands. Look at how the Aria is definitely making a dent in market, even at its price point. I have seen quite a few Arias roaming in my hometown of Bhubaneswar, even the it hasnt even been launched there yet.

The place of Volvo in the premium bus segment is just like that of Maruti in cars. People buy a Maruti, not always ( in fact rarely) because they feel it is the best product for them, but just because it is a Maruti.
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Old 3rd January 2011, 16:29   #18
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

If i were a premium traveller, i would prefer a lot more quiet and connectivity over entertainment options. Individual entertainments are anyways a pain from my experience of international travel. You have no way of avoiding the flickering light from the seat besides you or sometimes the sound from the headphones itself. I would prefer uninterrupted internet access over tv, movie or what ever. I do my own thing if i get internet. And most of us would like to sleep anyways!
2nd, as someone mentioned. A tie up to provide reliable pre-paid taxi service (shared would be better) at the drop off point is a definite USP!
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Old 3rd January 2011, 17:29   #19
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

I've been travelling overnight a lot since the last 4 years. What makes it a pleasant travel is :

- punctual
- convenient pick-up and drop points within the city.
- fresh blankets
- a water bottle per seat
- a wet tissue in the morning, at the end of an overnight journey
- stoppage at clean restaurants.

I travelled once in the Mercedes and abundantly in Volvos. I feel the Volvos are much better in ride quality than the Merc.

Don't know about the hyd-blr sector so can't say anything on specifics.

Do let me know if you start a Blr-Pune or Blr-Manipal service!
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Old 3rd January 2011, 20:45   #20
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

My observations:-

1. Ticket pricing and (manufacturer) brand positioning is something done by the operator.

2. Volvo's main USP is their higher pickup, better braking and higher speeds due to higher engine power.

3. Downside of volvo is lower FE - which is directly linked to engine power.

4. A vehicle's economics can be judged only over a period of 3-4 years.

5. Most of us here are passengers. Drivers will tell you how the vehicle behaves and their feelings while on the road. You are looking at overall economics. If you want proper feed back on how a brand is doing on the roads, talk to the operators.

If you have operated in KL, you would know that a typical bus (stage carriage) runs between 220 and 270 KMs in KL. Remember that the bus is considered "Old" only at end of 6 years or more. An engine overhaul is once in 3 years. An oil change is once in a month (normal oil). A typical luxury bus runs 600 KM+ per day. Now, reduce the above intervals proportionately, and you will get an idea of the economics involved.

From the operator's perspective, I am not too enamoured of the volvos. Just look at the number of comments / complaints mentioning "rattling old volvos". Volvos have built a halo around themselves with standardised bodies and yes, good chassis + engine + suspension. They were first to teach the Indian operators that they can charge differential rates. But, when the SRTCs replace their old Vlvos, they put in place Tata / AL / Isuzu / Kinglon <bla bla> brands.
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Old 3rd January 2011, 21:10   #21
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

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Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
From the operator's perspective, I am not too enamoured of the volvos. Just look at the number of comments / complaints mentioning "rattling old volvos". Volvos have built a halo around themselves with standardised bodies and yes, good chassis + engine + suspension. They were first to teach the Indian operators that they can charge differential rates. But, when the SRTCs replace their old Vlvos, they put in place Tata / AL / Isuzu / Kinglon <bla bla> brands.
I think the condition of the Volvos is not because of how they are but how they are maintained and the routes they are plyed on.

Eg. For 4 years, I travelled from Pune-Manipal in Volvos, operated by Canara Pinto, VRL, Vishal and KSRTC. In the following years, I travelled Manipal-Bangalore in KSRTC Volvos.

The Pune-Manipal route is mostly plain; at the ghats near Pune, the roads are in very good condition. Hence, almost all the Volvos I have seen/travelled in have been in good condition.

The Blr-Manipal route however runs through the Charmadi ghats and other hilly areas where the condition of the roads is pathetic to say the least. There are potholes you can measure in the "ft". Hence, over time the buses start rattling etc.

This route and NH-17 are notorious for being one of the worst national highways. During this time, Volvos were breaking down left right and centre. For about a month, all operators had STOPPED plying on these routes.

Add to that, for any Volvo that requires repair, you will only find make-shift local repairs; if a particular panel is dented/broken, you will find it repaired locally and not fitted with OEM.

Secondly, I think the operators run Volvos as much as they can. These buses have possibly the shortest turn-around time to maximize profits.

THIS is where the problem lies, not at the build quality of a Volvo.

If you see Volvos operated by fringe operators, you will find them in shambles; worse than the 1980s S.T. buses.
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Old 3rd January 2011, 21:53   #22
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
But, when the SRTCs replace their old Vlvos, they put in place Tata / AL / Isuzu / Kinglon <bla bla> brands.
Can you name one SRTC who has done this? (Please don't say KeSRTC - they think "out of the box" and come out with innovative nonsense).

KaSRTC has built up the biggest Volvo empire. MSRTC (who were very slow in starting Volvo services) has called for tenders to add 25 more Volvos (Yes! They did say Volvos). RSRTC has a fleet of Volvos/Mercs. APSRTC has a good fleet of Volvos... and so on. To the best of my knowledge, no operator has replaced their old Volvos with Tata/AL/Isuzu or other brands.

KeSRTC is one special operator who does the wrong thing at the right time. They are losing out passengers on inter-state routes big time now, and out of the 20 Globuses they purchased, only 12 are road-worthy now (according to KeSRTC's own records).
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Old 3rd January 2011, 23:09   #23
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

Bnai, when I made that statement, I did have the KeSRTC in mind.

If am wrong, (and I do feel that I am) I will stand corrected.
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Old 3rd January 2011, 23:37   #24
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by george_kj View Post
From the intercity bus travel reviews thread , i understand that ABT or some similar operators are using Isuzu and Tata buses and are doing pretty good.Can some one shed some light on these operators using these buses? What is their market strategy?
Yes, ABT and ARC are one such operators who really provide a premium service using their Ashokleyland 12M buses. here the word Premium is used since they dont have a Non-Ac fleet.They provide a good waiting room, a last minute phone call to remind you, a water bottle and a fresh banket( yes, you will feel fresh). Their fleets are maintained in a very good condition and the main USP is their time. I can bet you that KPN being a relatively larger and an older operator can claim nothing from these points - They never have a good fleet ( in select routes) nor a good waiting room or providing a water bottle, rather maintain their time.

ABT - ARC Business model:
- Only AC fleet.
- Charge a premium compared to Non Ac semi sleeper but less compared to competitors AC semi sleeper.
- Providing a water bottle
- A good entertainment ( Movie selection and clarity of movie)
- On Time every time.( Almost 480 KMS in less than 8 Hours)


Quote:
Originally Posted by george_kj View Post
Will i be able to put a picture of a tata globus on any company broucher and say " Premium and reliable transportation service"? Can i sell that? Are the customers willing to buy is my question.
I will rather say " A safer, reliable, comfortable transportation service". Dont bet big on Premium just for the sake of brands( VOlvo or MB).I do feel that running Volvo's really need a better financial management and not just knowing business management - They are bomb to own and operate


Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
My observations:-

1. Ticket pricing and (manufacturer) brand positioning is something done by the operator.
Fully agree! I can Say one thing as a whole just because the product (Here Volvo) is costing 40% more than conventional products we are paying that to operators Profit and loss account and not as a premium service we are offered. Here the word Premium takes the meaning Volvo and not for the service it offers. There are VOlvo services even without under thigh support( have to put my legs hanging) - Here I mean premium as a seats offered with those support for legs(As this reduces the number of seats in the bus and inturn provides a better comfortable seating position) - which is even found in many AL's and TML's.
I am strongly aganist the word premium product in buses just for the sake of Product cost - I would rather opt for a premium service with more sophistication.

A volvo with no under thigh supported seats, rattling interiors, water oozing AC vents, no water bottles on offer on the other side a 12M with a better supported seats, water bottles, a promt service and a better AC. In our language we call the former as Premium service as they are costlier just because their pay back is higher.

I saw some one telling - Volvo are operated continuously with out any break and they have shorter TAT. The reason they are operated continuously is because they carry more inventory carrying cost. They need to be squeezed to take the investment and so they cant left idle ( though none of the buses operated are ideally left idle)
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
2. Volvo's main USP is their higher pickup, better braking and higher speeds due to higher engine power.
This may be helpful when you operate a service more than 800 KMS but less than that you need to think of.

4. A vehicle's economics can be judged only over a period of 3-4 years.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
5. Most of us here are passengers. Drivers will tell you how the vehicle behaves and their feelings while on the road. You are looking at overall economics. If you want proper feed back on how a brand is doing on the roads, talk to the operators.
Well said!
I see many of them here speaking about Volvo is a premium product as they are offering a higher reliabilty - Its a thing where no one experimented. Just a word of mouth or even a belief that they offer a better reliability.
If you speak from the owners point of View reliability is different and durability is different - Here we need to look after the durability and not reliability - (If thats a case all ALs and TML's should be in roads for every KM)
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
From the operator's perspective, I am not too enamoured of the volvos. Just look at the number of comments / complaints mentioning "rattling old volvos".
I can certainly say durability point is still not proven of rather fully appreciated by owners or passengers - As many of us including me have several bad experience with Volvo ( The ticket cost will be only a premium as it is VOlvo )

Though my points seems to be little against Volvo I wish to clarify my points.
-I appreciate Volvo to bring a true bus product to India.
-Changed the way the buses looked
-Changed the way we travel ( I am very clear. that this means only about their RE configuration and nothing about their seats, comfort etc)
-But I am strictly aganisnt their product positioning - a premium product only as a cost.
I still believe that a day will come to change the product positioning of VOlvo.

More over I am interested to see how will the new(100) VRL 12M buses with 230HP will be pitted.Now they are in the same engine power of Isuzu - So it cannot be compared with just high engine. The main will be FE config.
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Old 4th January 2011, 03:34   #25
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

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Yes, ABT and ARC are one such operators who really provide a premium service using their Ashokleyland 12M buses.
Ashley, how much is the fare difference compared to a volvo running on the same roads?
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Old 4th January 2011, 04:23   #26
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I did a quick rough cal with the non-variable data that i have. I know there are lot more factors to be considered to get a good feasibility study. But i just wanted to get a feel for the numbers.These are just approximate numbers.

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Yes , the Rs 1200 / ticket for a volvo would compensate for the extra overhead costs. But also return my investment in a much shorter duration.That difference of 3 Months that you see from a volvo to a tata can be a substantial amount.(Bus is running between hyderabad to bangalore , where i think roads are in excellent condition now) Do you guys think the cost to maintain a volvo would be more than the amount that i make during this 3 months?

Assumtions are that the regular service of all the vehicles dont defer much and I would not have major maintainace issues till the two years of operations.

But ,

1. Will i mange to get an occupancy rate of 75% for a volvo with a Rs.1200 per ticket even with all the extras ..In seat entertainment , Good customer service(may help me in the long run) ...etc

How do i get the traffic data between hyderabad to bangalore in a week?Any agencies to look out for? Do you guys know anyone working at Redbus??

2. I think Rs 800 would be a killer price for a tata globus/AL with all the extras.What do you guys think?

George.
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Old 4th January 2011, 05:23   #27
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

Hi George:

Nice that your thinking of this service. There are few things which you should keep in mind.

1) The minimum number of seats which should be filled to break even on each trip. Weekends may be a hit but weekdays are when the traffic is VERY LOW.

2) You would have to have good agents in both the cities to sell tickets and they usually take a commision.

3) By charging a very high premium you may remove the customers who may be willing to try the service. Try a bit higher not a lot though.

4) Freebies are nice but adds to your costs on a long run.

5) Wear and tear of tires needs to be taken into account to get costs right.

I was chatting with my ticketing agent who said that " Luggage is how the bus operators make their money as it gives them a fixed income rather than the passengers seated in it".

Now coming to buses 1 thing i realised is people ask for volvo or non volvo. It is difficult to push a passenger seeking volvo to another bus.

Best of luck in your endevor but do the research well.

Maddy
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Old 4th January 2011, 11:19   #28
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

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The Blr-Manipal route however runs through the Charmadi ghats and other hilly areas where the condition of the roads is pathetic to say the least.
AFAIK, no Volvos are run in Charmadi ghats, coz of the sharp curves. I hope you are referring to Shiradi ghats, where all the volvos are run from BLR-south Coastal karnataka ( D.K. Districts) vice versa.
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Old 4th January 2011, 13:59   #29
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Why are you setting the ticket price of a Tata bus at 800, while all present operators charge Vovlo equivalent prices for the Hispano Globus.

Also, though I think the prices of the Merc, Volvo and the Tata Hispano Globus are in range, which bus from ALL are you considering at 45lakhs?? Also you can expect the Hispano globus prices to go up a bit in near future with the introduction of the 285hp engine and some other cosmetic improvements.

Also could anybody post a picture and some technical details of the Isuzu bus here, just for reference sake.
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Old 4th January 2011, 14:08   #30
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Default Re: Contemplating a new intercity coach service..Need your valuable suggestions!!!

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Originally Posted by sushrutha View Post
AFAIK, no Volvos are run in Charmadi ghats, coz of the sharp curves. I hope you are referring to Shiradi ghats, where all the volvos are run from BLR-south Coastal karnataka ( D.K. Districts) vice versa.
Yes, I'm sorry it is the Shiradi ghats I was referring to.
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