Yesterday, I was thinking about long distance (200 KMs to 2000 KMs) travel within India by road using bus service.
In most parts of south India, one can travel long distance journeys using buses operated by privates agencies or government agencies (known as State Road Transportation Corporations).
There are various ways to book your tickets.
Visit Travel Agent
Find out nearest travel agent shop. They typically sell tickets for various travel agencies. They make use of phone to call a central place or sometimes computer to reserve your ticket.
Visit Travel Agency Office
You can also visit travel agency's office.
Online booking (Using PC & Internet)
For air travel, online booking facility has been a basic minimal requirement before airlines starts its operations.
Ever since year 2002, Indian railways launched online booking service IRCTC, more and more ordinary people in India are booking tickets online. Nowadays, expectations about ticket booking procedure and quality of service are really high.
Unfortunately, not all transportation agencies have yet realized this trend and taken steps towards providing online booking facility. Perhaps because there are many small players (agencies) operating in the market.
Following are few transportation agencies that seems to have online booking facility :
- Karnataka State Road Transport
- Maharashtra State Road Transport (launch on 8 Jan 2010)
- Neeta Tours and Travels
- Sharma Transports
Is there any website where you could search over services/routes offered by many transportation agencies, compare prices and choose one that suits you best. There is, it is called http://www.redbus.in/. Check it out.
This covers online bus ticket booking options, now there is one last option.
You could call travel agent or services like redBus and book ticket on telephone and have it delivered at your home
Quality of Service
So how good is services offered by these travel agencies. After all you are likely to spend 5 hrs to 20 hrs in the journey and you want it to be comfortable.
Many of the operators use Volvo buses. They offer both AC and non AC options. Seats are comparable to economy class seats in a plane. Be careful about total seats in the bus, some operators use modified buses with two layers of seats. This could be uncomfortable and unsafe.
So what else passengers expect when they are traveling long distance by bus. How about conducted a survey to find out? Kevin Gomes (who is most talented Guitar player I have met) graciously participated in this survey and also won lucky draw. Notice his choices :
I know that chocolate mousse is yummy.
Well this survey does have sufficient sample size, for us to conclude, but still who is going to stop us? So conclusions :
- Online booking should be simple.
- Passenger should have choice and allowed to compare various options.
- Kevin's request is to reduce travel time and still have safe journey. Quality of road and drivers qualifications need to be considered.
- Travel time may not be a considerable if passengers are comfortable. How about bathroom inside bus?