In Bangalore for the last couple of days, I discovered the wonderful world of travelling by the air-conditioned Volvo buses that the State Transport runs through the city. Right from the first moment I spoke to Ramesh and Vandana, my friends who put me up (and put up with me), I was told by Ramesh that I had better take this 'red colored Volvo bus with the number 335E'. I was skeptical as ever. A bus? No, I'd rather take the auto I thought. 'No, the bus is simpler,' insisted Ramesh. I had my doubts and much as I tried not to talk about my modes of transport in Bangalore, Ramesh kept insisting that I take this 335E. He told me so may times that the number, the route, was imprinted in my mind.
But before that, another bus-ride that amazed me. The Kaleshwari bus that took me from Hyderabad to Bangalore, landed up at Hebbal, on the outskirts of Bangalore by 530 a.m. We had started from Lakdikapul in Hyderabad at 1030 p.m. and the distance to cover was about 580 kms. With a half hour stop thrown in, the guy made it in six and a half hours! Can you believe that? Yes, some part of the road is now six laned - especially the part from Hyderabad to Jadcherla - but still.
I got off at Majestic, walked over to the bus stand as Ramesh had told me to, warding off auto drivers who wanted to take me to a hotel, especially since I had a lot of time now, having arrived so early. I walked to the bus stop, spotted 335E right away, got into it, saw another couple of buses waiting behind and wondered at this prolific service. It cost me 35 rupees to get to HAL, and I was there in about 30 minutes. By auto that would have cost me more than a hundred bucks with a bumpy and noisy ride of at least 45 minutes. That afternoon when I had to go to Richmond Circle I got into another 335E and I was there in a jiffy. No more autos for me after that.
These buses are heavenly and completely marginalise the need for an auto rickshaw. They are fast, they are air conditioned, they have lovely seating, they are very comfortable to sit in, they play the radio and they are cheap. No noise, no pollution, no haggling. Someone told me that other states are copying this model as well and they should. Hyderabad should instantly get one right now. These buses have made long distance travel so comfortable and I'd take them anytime over rickshaws or even the metros since they stop wherever.
Back to the buses! How I wish I could take the 335E back home with me!