Taking the bus….


I often travel by bus out of Goa. Flying is a necessary evil, at best, avoidable, even if somebody else is picking up the bill (as is often the case while on work). With all this global warming around us, can we justify needless carbon footprints?

So, coming back to the topic of the bus… I wonder how you guys rate the varied bus services that connect Goa.

For long, I used to be a Paulo fan. They’re people-like-us… if you know what I mean. Wink, wink. One of the few enterprising Goan cristaos into business, and doing well with it (despite sometimes being on the wrong side politically, such as their dad Teotonio Pereira supporting the losing Wilfred de Souza Goa Congress bandwaggon when he was a legislator, and their determined high-profile battles over sleeper coaches during the Parrikar regime).

One of the Pereira boys (Magno) was in school with us, and we were all envious that he even had a bus named after him. All the children of the Paulo Travels family at one stage had buses named after them… that was before the fleet outstripped the number of children, I guess 🙂

Apart from these factors, I frankly liked their inexpensive operations, and their sleeper service. It allowed me to sleep soundly and reach Bangalore or Bombay next morning fresh, without the hassles of struggling to book a train ticket (which provided the same, for less, but has traditionally been such a struggle to book! Train tickets are now easier to come by, if you have a credit card and can crack the computerised booking system that is.)

But things changed, as the Paulo Travels trips started getting longer and reaching their destination later. If attending an early morning seminar, as is often my situation, one can’t saunter into the venue at noon day, wondering what all one has missed. They offer discounts on their tickets, but is fifty rupees worth the many extra hours wasted on the roads? To be fair to them, Paulo’s breakdowns (and that of other buses) are less frequent than they were a decade-and-half ago when India was still struggling even more badly to get its road transport into place. (India still is, but parts of the country are doing better than others… the south is particularly noteworthy.)

One option was Sharma, a “non Goan” travel service, run far more professionally and efficiently.

If I’m headed to Karnataka, I even occasionally take the KSRTC (Karnataka state service). They have a wide range of buses, including their comfy Volvos. Whatever chauvinism we might have against “non Goans”, fact is they are quietly efficient in running their service. Twenty minutes dinner break means just that — 20 minutes! Not stretchable to 40 minutes, as in the case of our “Goan” bus services. They reach on time, and come packaged in the typically South Indian high politeness levels, which is just the right note on which you want to start a trip somewhere.

Today, while aimlessly leafing through a guide book, I came across an advert for the Raj Travels Goa-Mumbai service (is it really linked to some politicians, as rumoured?) What they offer sounds very interesting, though I must admit that the tickets are priced far higher than the others….

Check out what they’re offering… and please do share your experiences in bus travel to and from Goa. (I’m not pushing for one or the other service, but would really like to know if there are options that we could learn from)…

Raj National Express  Volvo coach: Facilities include — Point-to-point service. Absolutely punctual services. 41 seats instead of 53, so more leg space for you. Seat reclines to maximu. Two LCD TV/DVD instead of one. Uniformed coach captain. Headphones on every seat. Mobile and laptop charging facility. Closed cabins for your handbaggage, just like an aircraft. http://www.rajnationalexpress.in

The uniformed captains bit doesn’t excite me, but the headphones do (the screaming video shows on most other buses are a pain… so I guess that would be absent). And the possibility of using a laptop while travelling also sounds interesting.

Of course, the tickets ARE on the higher side, compared to other services. Send in your views please…

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2 thoughts on “Taking the bus….

  1. Hi, I used to frequently travel by bus between Panaji and Bangalore and would like to share my experiences.

    Raj Travels rocks! Their service is worth the price. (At least it was a year ago, I’ve no clue about it now.)

    KSRTC.. I have to disagree with you about the ‘typically South Indian high politeness levels’. Their conductors on their air-conditioned Airavath buses are quite rude. I guess thats typical of a Government-run service from India’s most corrupt state.

    I’d say Paulo and Kadamba would have to compete for the worst service in terms of delays, not being prepared for breakdowns, and uncomfortable seats.

    *******

    Towards the end of my stay in Bangalore I began patronizing Jet Airways and Indian instead.. Their flights would release the carbon dioxide anyway, irrespective of whether I flew them or not. Its just that I ended up getting the blood on my hands, or rather, money. Indian airline companies should start selling carbon offsets.

  2. Hi! You seem to be an avid traveller. A lot of good and usable information is there on your blog.

    Can you suggest some good budget hotels to stay in Bangalore?

    Thanks

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