In a bid to make travelling by air-conditioned buses more affordable, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has decided to add 10 inter-city semi-luxury buses to its fleet.
The transport authority had earlier started one semi-luxury AC bus on the Dadar-Pune route and has now decided to add 10 more such buses, on the five selected routes, to link cities.
The MSRTC had introduced the semi-luxury AC bus on October 27 between Pune and Mumbai, under the brand name of 'Sheetal'.
"The bus that we ran as a pilot project has showed a 75% occupancy for every trip and it costs much lesser than the AC Volvo buses. We have identified five routes on which such buses will be a success," said Deepak Kapoor, managing director and vice chairman, MSRTC.
The selected routes are: Mumbai-Satara, Thane-Pune, Pune-Aurangabad, Pune- Nashik and Jalgaon-Pune. A ticket for a Sheetal bus costs Rs180, while that of a Shivneri bus costs Rs270. The price difference is a sizeable Rs90.
A Sheetal bus has 39 seats and is equipped with air conditioning and air suspension. It has been doing 2 trips a day between Pune and Mumbai.
The MSRTC is the only state transport body in the country that has semi luxury AC buses in its fleet.
The Thane-Pune, Pune-Aurangabad and Pune-Nashik routes have Shivneri buses plying on them, but according to MSRTC officials, it was identified that commuters travelling by non-AC Asiad buses desired to travel on AC buses, but with lower fares.
"Our target for Sheetal buses is the lower middle class, which may not want to travel by Volvo buses. The smaller cities can be linked by Sheetal buses to make AC travel affordable as well as improve commuters' aspiration, so may later start preferring Volvos," added Kapoor.