Review: Mumbai to Bangalore in the KSRTC Ambaari Dream Class
The Ambaari Dream Class is a Volvo AC Sleeper coach (MG Starz) built by mgbusandcoach on the Volvo B11R chassis.
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This is a review cum travel experience on my longest roadway ride this far – 1000 km from Mumbai to Bengaluru by an unusual mode of travel viz. a Karnataka SRTC Volvo Sleeper, christened Ambaari Dream Class. This coach comes with a host of features and misses out on some essential bits, but the overall experience was out of the ordinary.
Why a bus for such a long ride?
I wanted to undertake an impromptu trip down south, and, as expected, there were no tickets available on trains at short notice. Flights have now gotten boring. Don’t know why, but I just visited the KarnatakaSRTC site to know if they had buses from Mumbai to Bengaluru (knowing that they had been plying services for many years). Options were an Ambaari Dream Class Volvo sleeper with departure Mumbai Central 1500hrs, and another Airavat Club Class Multi Axle Volvo seater leaving Dahisar at 1530hrs. While the Airavat had ample seats, the Ambaari had only a solitary berth available.
I took a while to understand the pros and cons of a road journey, especially on the unpredictable Mumbai – Pune and Pune- Satara sections. I however decided to take this under the following arguments:
The decision was taken in less than 30 minutes, and I visited the Karnataka SRTC site again, to find that solitary berth still there, priced at a very competitive INR1987. I went ahead with the booking, and then found a train from Vadodara that would connect me to this bus.
I took a train from Vadodara at 0730hrs to be in Mumbai Central by 1300hrs. All I needed to do was to come out of Mumbai Central Terminus, cross the road, and enter the Mumbai Central Bus Station, which I was entering for the first time. The bus station looked rather old but was reasonably neat. I was in there by 1315hrs. Seeing that there was ample time to departure, I ventured out into the massive parking to find many NWKRTC buses and there in one corner, saw the Ambaari Dream Class for the first time – looked absolutely royal in white with some nice graphics on the side. The crew had brought the bus into Mumbai at 1000hrs that day and had just gotten up after some rest. I asked one of them, who was in rest wear and he confirmed that the bus would come to platform#7 at 1430hrs.
Ambaari Dream Class Volvo Sleeper resting before the long haul
I returned to the waiting area, which was extremely comfortable thanks to the great ventilation in the building, and waited with bated breath for the stallion to arrive.
Waiting area at Mumbai Central bus station – old but reasonably neat
The bus was at the platform at 1430hrs. Two of us were scheduled to board the bus at Mumbai Central and we were on our way 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure, headed towards Sion to pick up more passengers.
About the Ambaari Dream Class
The Ambaari Dream Class is a Volvo AC Sleeper coach (MG Starz) built by mgbusandcoach on the Volvo B11R chassis. This is powered by a 10,800cc turbo-diesel engine mated to Volvo ‘I-Shift’ 12-speed gearbox. From what I’ve gathered, the engine puts out a whopping 2100 Nm of torque at 1010-1400rpm. Electronically-controlled all-air suspension system (ECS) complemented by air bellows on the axles, anti-roll bars on all the axles and disc brakes on all wheels assisted by ABS, EBD and ESP, provide the desired comfort and safety.
Front wheels – 295/80R22.5 tyres – JK Jetway is a very popular tyre.
Rear twin axles
The tag axle which assists in a low turning radius
Jacking point for the front marked
Forty berths are provided in a 2×1 upper and lower berth configuration The design of the Starz coach is elegant, and practical and provides great aesthetic appeal with the right ergonomics. The exterior styling shows crisp lines and smooth and glossy sides. The front eyebrow headlamps with a massive windshield and a characteristic roof-tail section make this coach stand out as classy. The window panes offer a panoramic exterior view
View from the window
The dashboard is ergonomically designed, with the driver control panels oriented towards the driver seat on either side of the telescopically adjustable steering wheel. The driver has a commanding view of the front and the sides aided by massive ORVMs and even more massive windshield wipers. I also saw a 7” monitor which I am sure is fed by a reverse camera although I did not see it in action.
The controls – note the headlamps on-off knob and the controls for the tag axle, vehicle suspension height control.
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