CHENNAI: The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSTRC) has introduced air-conditioned Volvo bus service between Chennai and Tirupati, becoming the first state-owned transport corporation to operate the luxury coach from the city to the hill shrine.
Christened Garuda Volvo Services, the bus takes three hours to take Chennai devotees to Tirupati, akin the Sapthagiri Express, a popular train among the devotees, which takes the same time to reach the foothills of Tirumala.
“We commenced the new service from July 25,” P Viswanatham Chetty, Superintendent, APSTRC, Chennai, told City Express. “The Volvo bus has so far recorded an occupancy rate of 60 percent during the weekdays and 100 per cent in weekends,” he added.
Garuda Services has two trips to Tirupati from Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus, operating at 9.30am and 10pm. From Tirupati, the buses head for Chennai at 5am and 5.30pm.
According to sources, APSTRC had plans to introduce the luxury coach much earlier, but the poor condition of the Periyapalayam-Uthukottai-Nagalapuram high road didn’t augur well for the movement of the Volvo buses. The roads, being improved, have now paved the way for introduction of the service.
APSTRC operates 48 direct buses to Tirumala, besides numerous services to Kurnool, Cuddapah and other parts of Andhra Pradesh via Tirupati. On an average, these services will have occupancy of 60 per cent on weekdays and take passengers even on standing during the weekends and festival days.
When asked for the scope for more Volvo buses on the Chennai-Tirupati section, Viswanatham Chetty said two additional Garuda services would be on road soon. “We are expecting to commence the additional services in two months from now,” he added.