Neeta Travels is one of the oldest bus operator based out of Pune. In 2010 they started entering the Karnataka market, initially it was with 1 Volvo Multi-Axle bus to Mangalore and 3 Volvo Multi Axle buses to Bangalore. All their buses were brand new. I had never traveled in Neeta travels earlier but had seen their buses plying in the Mumbai - Pune route for a long time.
During June 2011 on my way to office I found a brand new Konduskar travels Mercedes Benz Multi Axle bus parked near the race course road in Bangalore . I checked out with assistant who was cleaning the bus . He said this bus was introduced in the Bangalore - Pune route just a day back. That evening I called my friend who stays in Kolhapur and informed that Konduskar Travels has introduced a new Mercedes Multi Axle bus to Kolhapur. I had been planning from quite sometime to visit him, but time was never on my side. He said why don't you come down to visit me. I joked and said OK I will come over the weekend. But he was serious and said come down. I too thought for a while since I was free that weekend and I had to keep my promise of visiting him. I decided let me try it out if tickets are there and I get a holiday on Monday.
Next day I checked out the Konduskar travels, but the bus timing was not suiting me. I had to come back from office to my house which are in two different directions and then take the bus to Kolhapur. But the limited time made me think of other alternative. There were other buses out of which VRL and Sharma I had traveled earlier in the same route. Both of them were good but this time wanted to try out something else. So there was Neeta Travels the hottest buses in the route and they had 5 Volvo Multi Axle and 1 Mercedes Multi Axle bus in the Bangalore - Mumbai route. My first preference was not Neeta since I had read a lot of horror stories in the net and just a few days back even one of my friend coming from Mumbai to Bangalore also had a bad experience. The Mercedes bus was in the afternoon so it was out of list. Other buses were also almost full. But the 10PM Volvo Multi Axle bus from Neeta was perfect, since it was a late night bus and I could catch the bus easily after office hours.
I booked a window seat in the 10PM Neeta Travels Volvo Multi Axle bus from Bangalore to Kolhapur. I reached their Gandhinagar office in Bangalore at 9 PM only. Still an hour to go, so started my automobile photography which is my hobby. At 9.15 PM a brand new Neeta entered, it was a beauty. I checked with the agent which was this bus. He said that's the 8.30 PM bus....
So I expected my bus would be late. But at 9.45 PM another brand new Volvo Multi axle came, I was super excited since the seat covers still had plastic and the bus was looking like a bride. And was I surprised how come Neeta Travels came before time. But again my agent told "No Sir its the 9.30 bus". Neeta had added 3 more extra bus, so now its 9 buses of Neeta Travels in the Mumbai from Bangalore. That's a big news indeed. Now there are more than 50 buses doing the Mumbai - Bangalore route. 10PM passed but no signs of my bus. The agent said Sir traffic is bad in city. I told I am in Bangalore from past 9 years and it takes less than 15 minutes to come from Kalasipalyam to Gandhinagar even in peak hours. The agent smiled, the Seagull agency people were good and friendly. And the office was quite big with sufficient seating.
The bus at last appeared at 10.30 PM a 30 minutes delay, it then went to Anand rao circle. The bus left Anand rao circle at 11 PM after adding a few more passengers. The agent had said there are no more pic ups in between. But the bus moved a little further and entered a petrol pump for filling Diesel. Passengers were talking what a nonsense, why cant they fill and come on time. Its already late. It took another 15 minutes at the station. Then it moved to Rajaji nagar, there again it waited for 10 mins to get some passengers. After that again a unauthorized pick up at Yeshvanthpura since some seats were empty. So by the time it left Bangalore it was around 12.00 AM.
The bus had two LCD screens, they started playing the movie only at 11PM. It was a old 'Hera Peri' Movie. There were many students in the bus, all grumbled they know each and every dialog of this movie please change. The assistant replied this was the only one he had. Mineral water was given to all passengers and blankets were already at the seat. The bus was clean and neat. And AC cooling was Normal in the beginning.
After an hour the bus stood for Dinner, the time was 12.45 AM. Oh no we just started and already a break. The hotel was a road side Dabha which was good only for truck drivers. It was a unfit hotel for Volvo passengers, so didnt find anyone taking any food. Looks like Neeta Travels has not given any guidance or any instruction to staff on what kind of hotels to be stopped for food. While waiting there saw the 10.30 PM Neeta Volvo also passing us. And we are still near Bangalore only.
The bus left after 1.00AM, I though now they will try to make up for the delay. But the bus was traveling very slow just around 60 - 70 speed. Also the driver reduced the AC and it was feeling hot. The bus was a Semi sleeper but this was one was not as good as the other two buses which I had seen earlier.
The ride was not smooth, the driver was pretty slow and was applying sudden brakes. Didn’t get a good sleep. And there were some chatter boxes in the bus who were going on talking till 3 AM. Sometime wonder why God has not given common sense to some people. After my tiring day at the office, their stories were really irritating. We passed Davanagere at 3.30 AM after which somehow I tried to get some sleep. Some pic ups and drops happening at every few intervals.
Early morning my eyes opened with a beautiful view outside. Time was around 5.45 AM. Little rain and lush green surroundings was a beauty for eyes. But was not able to figure out which place was it. Seeing the good roads outside I thought we are in Maharashtra. The bus was still moving slowly, never seen a Volvo Multi Axle driver driving this monster so slowly. After a while the assistant came and was calling Hubli passengers. Oh my God... We are still in Hubli.. The next stop was Belgaum. Time was around 7 AM. So another 100 odd KMS to go to Kolhapur.
At Nippani the bus stopped and guess what the assistant went and opened the luggage door on the side. And there appeared the other driver coming out of the luggage area, Oh my god never till now had seen a driver sleeping in the luggage are in a Volvo. Felt sad for the driver, there is no air circulation or window there. God knows how he slept all the way from Tumkur to Nippani. Owners don’t seem to be bothered on their employees welfare. In most of the other Volvo Or Mercedes buses the drivers sleep in a extra seat allotted to him or else they have a rear berth specifically for drivers only. Vishal Travels Multi Axle and Sharma Transport which I had traveled earlier both had this system.
Everyone in the bus were feeling hungry, no signs of stopping. At last at 8.30 AM it stopped at a hotel some 20 KMS before Kolhapur. The hotel was sad and washrooms were limited. Again not the type of hotels fit for Volvo customers.
There was one National Travels Volvo and one more Neeta already standing there. The other Neeta Travels was a brand new one and was a beauty to look at. Little showers made the weather cool and my bus was also getting a face wash. After all the Tea party the bus left the hotel at 9AM . The same old movie started. Checked with the driver the driver said it will go only in the bypass and will not go inside Kolhapur city. At last my Journey on the Neeta Travels Volvo Multi Axle ended at 9.30AM.
Coming to the quality of Volvo Multi Axle bus, there is nothing negative about it to speak. The built quality is too good and the engine is really powerful. Interior is simple, seat quality is good and suspension is very good. The LED lights are impressive and fit and finish is just perfect.
Neeta has selected some of the best rare colours. All their new Volvo Multi Axle buses have a real unique colour which are really impressive. Overall the journey rating I would give is a 'Average' since it took a good 11 Hours to reach Kolhapur from Bangalore. Neeta Travels Management needs to focus on training the staff, time management and also select good hotels on the way.
For my return I had planned to take the all new Konduskar Multi Axle bus to Bangalore. So evening went to their office to check out the tickets, but to my surprise the staff replied we don’t know which bus will come. I told them just 3 days back Konduskar had launched the Mercedes Benz Multi axle bus from Pune to Bangalore via Kolhapur. They told me sometimes Volvo comes and sometimes Mercedes comes. I told them I had checked in their Bangalore office about the bus and the agent there had confirmed it. It was very usual to find the head office people were themselves not sure on which bus was coming. They told me to come back on Monday and take the tickets. I too was confused on what these guys are talking. Since Monday I had to leave Kolhapur at any cost I decided to take up Neeta back. But the Mercedes Multi Axle bus was late at night at 10.15 PM, seeing my previous experience with Neeta Volvo which took 13 hours, I was in two minds to book the ticket. But I did not wanted to miss out the Mercedes Multi Axle , so at last took the risk of booking it. I booked the front seat go get a good experience.
On Monday morning during my morning walk in Kolhapur found the Konduskar Mercedes Benz Multi axle bus. I was clicking bus photo’s , suddenly a man came near me and spoke to me in Marathi I didnt understand, then I told him to tell in Hindi. He asked me in Hindi “Aaap pathra kaar ho” are you a press reporter. I laughed and said I had come to visit my friend in Kolhapur and am not a press reporter. I told him I keep taking snaps of buses as a hobby. He also smiled. This has happened to me many times, it’s strange in India people find it unusual when Indian people take snaps, especially of commercial vehicles. People might be wondering what a crazy guy I am... But buses are my passion and taking a bus photo always makes me happy . Such funny encounters happens often. He was the driver of another Konduskar bus which was parked nearby, I checked with him about the newly launched bus to Bangalore from Pune. He knew all about it. I told him but your office people don’t know head and tail about the new service. He just smiled. I got my answer.
Now that’s Konduskar travels, seriously they seemed to be lost lot. Customers and agents are aware about the service but their own head office staff in counter don’t know about it. Really strange.
On Monday evening at around 7 PM got a SMS , just checked it was from Neeta travels. The message had the bus number and bus attendants name, mobile number and reporting time. I was super excited seeing this. It was the first time a bus operator is sending such message just like you get it from airline operators. At 9.30 I reached the Neeta office in Kolhapur city, but the staff at the office said the bus would not come inside the city for pick up and need to go to highway which was another 3 Kilometers from there. My friend who is working from Kolhapur said the pickup point what has been mentioned in the ticket is of this place. But they said due to road work the bus is not coming here. My friend asked all buses are coming to Kolhapur city and why only Neeta could not come inside the city for pick up. They did not have a answer nor they did any alternative arrangement for going to the highway. Had to spend another 50 bucks in Auto to reach that place. It was raining and pretty dark.
The highway pickup point was on a roadside without any shelter and there was a bar at the junction. God knows why Neeta travels doesn’t has a bit of commonsense to make people wait in such places. This place is unsuitable for families and female travelers. At 10PM called the number which I had received in the SMS from Neeta to check where was the bus. The assistant took the call, was delighted by this. But next he replied Sir I am in Mumbai - Goa route. I am not the person concerned. Please check with our office. Oh no... all my excitement fell down. It looks like some school children are managing Neeta Travels operations. Basic things are not set right. Called their helpline number and got the number of the driver. At first this number was not reachable , but after 10 mins at 10.15 PM which was supposed to be the pickup time, the call got connected. The driver picked the call and said in another 5 mins I will be there. I said to my friend who had come along to leave me, I am sure it will take not less than another 20 mins. My friend was already furious on Neeta Travels. It started to rain heavily and somehow we both managed with our Umbrella.
At last at 10.45 PM , the bus arrived 30 minutes late. It was a white Mercedes Benz Multi Axle bus seeing the Neeta’s reputation I thought I would reach Bangalore only in the afternoon. The staff was looking friendly compared to the Volvo one. I took my front Semi Sleeper seat. The bus was almost full. Soon the bus picked up speed and after a while it was just zooming and overtaking each and every vehicle on the road with ease. The ride was very smooth and not rash. The driver seemed to be well experienced, its rare to see such driving skills. After a while saw the KSRTC Airavat Sleeper like a baby Volvo Multi Axle within seconds my Mercedes Multi axle overtook it. Wow... now that’s the power of Mercedes. A few minutes later another VRL Volvo Multi axle which was also going in good speed was also overtaken. Inside the bus people were in deep sleep but I was enjoying the real power of Mercedes, it’s a Star Indeed.
A little later found the Anand Travels Volvo, which is supposed to have fastest drivers from Mangalore overtaking vehicles in front of us. But the Mercedes power was not match for the Volvo B7R. It was also was overtaken. The driver did not put sudden brakes or was cutting lanes zig zig, so no one could make out the speed of the bus. But I am sure it would have been easily cruising at 100 KM to 120 KM speed. I too went for a good sleep and slept like a baby. The suspension was even better than the Volvo Multi Axle and the leg space was very good, interiors were simple, nothing special to talk about, it gave more of Sutlej feeling than Mercedes feeling. AC cooling was perfect and seats were also comfortable.
It once stood somewhere near Davanagere for tea at a road side shop, forgot to see the time. One thing which Neeta misses out is it needs to stop at good hotels where there are washrooms. Again I went to a good sleep. And to my surprise when my eyes opened we were passing Tumkur. Wow this was unbelievable. I couldn’t even make out the speed of it. The bus reached Bangalore at 6.45 AM. That’s was just unbelievable just 8 hours from Kolhapur to Bangalore. Both the drivers of this bus were good and at last Neeta travels made me very happy. Would surely travel next time in their Mercedes Benz Multi axle buses.
Overall I can say is Neeta buses are very good, but management needs to wake up and fix up smaller issues at ground level. Being a big company I think the management seem to have lost control on what is happening under their nose. They have invested a lot in buses, hope now they invest their time in setting up the processes and provide good travel experience in future.
For travelers, compared to some of the unbranded operators Neeta Travels seemed to be good choice. But don’t expect a 'Wow' service from them always. You can keep Neeta Travels as also one of the options, they are not that bad as per my experience. You can enjoy their buses for sure, they have one of the best fleets currently.
For online booking visit : www.neetabus.in
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