Hardly six months after Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) introduced long distance luxury bus services with toilet and pantry facilities, State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) of Tamil Nadu is set to replicate the same on the busy Coimbatore-Chennai route. A private bus body building unit in Karur has started customizing two Ashok Leyland buses with chemical toilets, in-built pantry, live television and Wi-Fi. The buses are expected to hit the road in a month’s time.
“It is a dream project of the state government and there would be more such services in the future if the pilot project is successful,” said a senior SETC officer. According him, the corporation has kept the project a secret to facilitate a formal announcement by the chief minister. “Our aim is to give air travel luxury to passengers. The corporation is all set to woo high-end travelers, who otherwise are likely to fly or travel luxury class on trains,” he said.
According to the officer, the buses would be equipped with imported toilets from Germany with sliding doors. “Similar buses launched in Karnataka faced the problem of fowl-smell emanating from the toilet spreading to passenger area. The body builder in Karur is importing German toilets which will have smell filters and tight stainless steel tanks. The toilets will have exhaust fans, water and waste water indicators,” he said. The buses, which will accommodate 40 passengers each, will also have store rooms, dust bins, pantry and charging points for mobiles and laptops. “It would definitely be an aircraft moving on the road,” he added.
While Karnataka uses Volvo multi axle buses for similar services, SETC has preferred Ashok Leyland buses with custom-made facilities. “We consulted many experts before finalizing the facilities on the bus. The corporation is planning to operate such services on Chennai-Tirupathi and Chennai-Madurai routes as well. Charges would be a little higher than on sleeper buses that are operated by private players, but the level of comfort would be much higher, the officer said. Apart from coffee and tea, travelers would also be provided snacks like vada during the journey.