Volvo Buses - Redefining Public Transport

Call it a masterstroke of a genius or sheer luck mixed with perfect timing or a normal idea over-hyped and exaggerated or just whatever you like it to be called. I am referring to the decision of Volvo to go ahead with the launch of luxury buses in India as early as 2001. I remember reading the news about the impending launch in Autocar India with the picture of a white B7R with blue and pink stickers (Wow what a memory capacity I possess!!!) over it's body. On reading it and knowing the price of the bus thereafter, I thought Volvo was digging the death-knell for itself in a very price-sensitive market dominated by the erstwhile Tatas and Leylands.

A few years down the line, Volvo has proved me wrong and has established itself as the undisputed leader in the Indian luxury Commercial-Vehicle segment. Especially in buses, Volvo has become a name to reckon with in our country and commands a Brand-Image equivalent of Mercedes-Benz or BMW in cars. As a matter of fact, Volvo ruling the roost in India has prompted many dormant companies to go ahead with the launch of their own luxury buses. Mercedes-Benz has just joined the bandwagon and has tied up with Sutlej for building it's luxury coaches.

As an auto-buff, I am one of the greatest fans of Volvo buses. It's not only because of the fact that it's modern, beautiful and fast compared to our old buses, but also because of the improvements it has brought about in our Transport System as well. Volvos have single-handedly raised the bar for safety of the travelling public, reduced the travel time considerably between cities and have made other companies like Tata, Ashok Leyland and even smaller individual coach builders follow the trend it has set. More importantly, it has made the job of the driver much easier than before. Just ask a Volvo driver about the vehicle he is piloting and he will start raving about his machine.

Though Volvo has met with such an unprecedented success story in India, all the above statements holds good only for a privileged few. But the refreshing fact is that the Government organizations like KSRTC and APSRTC are embracing and supporting Volvo and are setting the path for other transport  corporations to follow. Even the usually conservative Chennai (MTC) has started endorsing "Brand Volvo" in a big way and is taking the lead set by Bangalore (BMTC) by introducing the 8400 B7R LE buses in increased numbers and frequencies. All this means that people like me will be having a field day watching these beasts in action doing intra-city and inter-city duties.

At last, a well-deserved and special thanks to the new Volvo 9400 Multiaxle bus, which I saw for the first time in Chennai last week and was stunned by it's mammoth size and which prompted me in coming up with this piece of writing. Hail the Volvos !!!