Monday, September 17, 2007

Chennai MTC Volvo City Buses-Photos, Timetable and Route Info

This post gives you all available information related to newly introduced Volvo City Buses by MTC Chennai. Since my earlier post on Bangalore Volvo City buses was extremely popular I thought I'll write a similar post on Chennai Volvo. So here we go. [Quick jump to Routes|time-table section ]
Chennai MTC Volvo city bus front view
It’s the same B7RLE variant of Volvo transit bus which is rocking Bangalore roads that has hit Chennai roads. If you ask me, the dashing red coloured Volvo in Bangalore, covered further with advertisements, looks a bit more attractive than the pale white colour Chennai Metropolitan has chosen. Nevertheless, it should be a good experience to Chennai commuters. (Even Singapore and several other countries use this same model...)

MTC has purchased 10 Volvo B7RLEs as of now(Rs 78 lakh each, expensive than B7R inter city coaches). Only 5 are operational as of now-2 on 21G (Tambaram to Broadway), 2 on E-18 route (Broadway to Guduvancheri) and one on Route number 19 (Broadway to Kelambakkam). No official time table has been released. They keep plying on the designated routes. Ticket prices are at par with Bangalore (though diesel is cheaper in Chennai) starting Rs 10. (Makes more economical than unruly overpriced meter less autos in Chennai)

Image of MTC CHennai VOlvo Bus rear side view
APSRTC: Are you watching?

Timetable: MTC Chennai has not issued any consolidated Time Table for Volvo Services, but I noticed that they have placed some boards displaying departure timing of the Volvo buses at each bus terminal where a Volvo service originates/ends. Two such boards, found at Central and Broadway station can be seen in the images below. But please note, these Volvo buses are under no obligation to honor these timings. When I took these photos at Broadway at 1120 hours I was thinking I have to wait for another 45 minutes for next bus. But surprisingly at 1130 a Volvo bus of route number 21G came in and it left the station at 1140. I’m not sure if the 1105 bus came in late or 1215 bus came in early, but verdict is that timetable is not reliable. Also I could see no mention of E-18 route time table (Broadway to Guduvancheri)

Timetable at Central
Bangalore has a SMS based location identification service for Volvo city buses. Hope Chennaities can expect similar service (details here). Right: Timetable found at Central. (Excuse me for bad photography, image was taken in a hurry), Below: Timetable at Broadway.

Ticket Fare: From Broadway to Chamiers Road did cost me Rs. 23 (Rs 5 in ordinary bus), Thiruvanmiyur to Chennai Central costs Rs 25 (Rs 10 in a Deluxe bus). While Bangalore BMTC Volvo conductors speak fluent English, Chennai MTC Volvo conductor with whom I spoke managed to utter few English words. The bus was running with less than 25% occupancy with which MTC might just be breaking even.
Image of MTC Chennai Volvo Service Time Table
Other observations:

Emergency Exit door is positioned at an unusual place-the ventilator on roof top. Not sure how practical it will be to use that door for emergency exit because if it is very inconvenient to exit through that tiny door. (It is more practical to break those gigantic windows and escape in case of emergency, assuming one manages to break them!)

Cameras and Fire alarms have been provided. The central floor is extremely spacious to accommodate luggage, people with wheel chair or even a stretcher. Journey is smooth and comfortable. The driver steers the Volvo as if he's driving a car!!
Emergency Exit in Chennai Volvo bus
Spacious interiors
Almost everyone on the roadside-Other drivers, traffic police, general public, everyone turn their head and stare at Volvo as it passes by. If you sit near Window you can hope to gain some popularity.

Chennai MTC (Metropolitan Transport Corporation) Official website:(The website is not yet updated with Volvo related information)

Full list of all Chennai route numbers can be found here: (not yet updated with Volvo routes)
Inside photo of MTC Chennai Volvo Bus
No Volvos yet on Chennai's IT superhighway (Madhya Kailash to Sholingnallur). This sector can get good commuters for Volvo.
inside photo of Chennai Volvo
Some more photos for you.
Note the automatic transmission-the D, N and R buttons-driving volvo is as easy as driving a scooty, except for the estimation skill you need while turning, owing to huge dimensions of the vehicle. But if you ask me, I love the manual transmission better-The sheer fun of changing gears manually-I feel like a handicapped while driving automatic-your left leg and hand has almost no use... What is your take on that? Let me know.

As of now no advertising is to be found on these Volvos while BMTC is caching in on that front too.
A cheap travel insurance is superfluous for a one time vacation. Rather, try saving on the airline tickets as well as go for cheap hotels. You will be able to spare more that way. Also only if you are getting cheap cruises, should you pursue the package.

Related posts: Why BMTC is faring better than its rivals| Bangalore Volvo City Buses|Bangalore-Hyderabad by Bus

November 2010 updates: Did learn recently that BMTC in Bangalore has introduced free internet service in its select Volvo fleet (Vayu Vajra Service that caters to airport passengers and ITPL route that services to IT employees. Need to see if Chennai catches up fast. Other posts: Chennai Roadies * MMTS local train ride *
Driver seat
front side view of Volvo


hari said...

This should be nice. Provided the drivers drive properly and not rashly :-)

Rohit Tripathi said...

yes really its very good....

Rohit Tripathi

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hari: Volvo gives special training to Volvo drivers. Pre requisite to drive volvo is that the driver should have 5 year experience driving other heavy vehicles.

So I hope they will drive safe.

Rohit: Thanks for the comment.

Ravishankar said...


This is Ravishankar, Sorry to have posted my comment on the other messaging link. Anyway coming back to what you had said regarding what if the passenger does not know tamil!!! Do you think the MTC would really need to care about th epassenger not knowing tamil. If the driver does not know tamil there should be someone on the bus who would know tamil. We cannot have English graduates driving busses man. And on the other front regarding updating the website with the new volvo info. Do you know how long would it take for an official incharge of these changes to get the budget approved??? And further they would have to find some one to implement the change. Im sure they do not have anybody on contract to handle it. Im not mad at you for what you have written but you got to condierate on whats being written. India is still in a developing phase and will be in the same stage for several years from now. Dont criticise the Government yet and give them time for they have just started thinking in terms of being modern with infrastructure. No body is perfect you or me were not doing everything perfect right from our birth. We learn and we live. Same with any Government operated department in India. They have just started learning. And stop comparing tamil nadu with other states. There is no need for comparison.Bear with them for a while. A women has to wait for 10 months from the day she got conceived to see her child and from then on she has to wait for 2 years for that child to walk on his own and 3 years from there for him to go to school and atleast 12 years from there for him to make his own decisions in his life. This is all a slow process, it takes time. so take it easy on them... I remember something while i write this one of my friend told me about the phrase quoted by some famous man and it goes like " I'm a slow walker but never walk back wards".

Shrinidhi Hande said...

What I meant is it would have been a lot more convenient if bus crew could speak english. Not necessarily english graduates, but how about a VETA course? :)

Adding few new rows of text info into an HTML page should be a kid's job which could be done in few minutes. I do not understand why MTC can't get that done internally. It is odd to float a tender to update a static HTML page of their website... Dont you think so?

Let them take their time. I have no objections/complaints as such.

citiseni said...

Thanks! Nice post... One quick question: What made you assume that a conductor of a Volvo bus in Tamil Nadu should be fluent in English? (Apparently, you weren't pleased with his broken English - or were you?)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

That's a personal opinion. You're free to feel otherwise. Even in Bengaluru volvo conductor began with english and switched to Kannada if passengers respond in Kannada.

Subbu said...

Update - Now there are many Volvo buses running from saidapet to kelambakkam via Rajiv gandhi salai. and Broadway to Kelambakkam..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes. I've noticed it. Forgot to update the blogpost to that effect. Will do it soon

Ash said...

Nice review. Before complaining about the conductors speaking english or not. One should note that only in tamilnadu all buses carries the From and To in both native language tamil and english. I have travelled across india and find more difficult reading the boards written in either hindi or in their native language with no hint of english.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Good observation.But I believe its not fair to generalize. In Bangalore I'm seeing most of the buses getting fitted with electronic display units. Hyderabad buses also had english display as I remember

Ravi said...

Great to see that every Transport in the Metropolitan are adopting the New & Shining Buses.
But Compared to Bangalore Volvo Bus The Chennai Buses look Pale.
I think it will take some time to see people crowded on these buses as we see now in Bangalore buses.
But Number of buses should be increased as people must get more opportunity to travel in such superb vehicles, and it will be a fortune for the transportation company later on.

Anonymous said...


Please let me know Chennai to Trichy - City Volvo A/C bus Schedule.

hrc said...

We r dam proud to speak in TAMIL! and u kanadikas r not!

Bharathi Arjun said...

There is more number of places in tamilnadu doesn't get a single mini bus for transportation

Why this costly vehicle (volvo) needed for chennai

Chennai already equipped with the necessary transportation facility

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Good point. I think situation is same all over. Yes, 5 regular buses can be added at the price of Volvo, but corporation also earns 5 times more in a volvo for same distance- so there is a demand and there is a supply.

Yes, smaller towns need better road and bus facilities, no denying that.