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DC's Luxuria redefines bus travel !


The DC Design Luxuria prepares to transform inter-city bus transport into an airline business class experience. Sopan Sharma takes a look at the buses and the idea behind them

Stretched out on a fine textured leather seat, cruising silently, the attendant brings along a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The reading lights are on and the atmosphere, clean and warm. Only, you're not flying at 35,000 feet. On terra firma, you're munching tarmac miles on the way from Bangalore to Chennai on board the Luxuria premium super-luxury bus service. Yes, it's a bus, but one that attempts to offer a travel experience akin to the business class of airliners.

The time for this sort of an idea was ripe. Spiking inter-city flight travel even over small distances made one wonder why so many travelers were opting to go through the tedious process of 2-hour security checks for a fifteen minute flight, and clearly the answer lay with luxury, comfort, and an utter absence of agencies on-ground who would provide these services over our expanding and evolving express-highways.

In came Blue Hill Pvt. Ltd, better known as promoters of the Nilgiris Supermarket Chain, identifying a service of this sort as the niche market for the future especially in the IT rich corridors between Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. What remained was to rope in someone who could bring to life the challenge of converting a road transport bus into the business class cabin of a plush flight. Few marks for guessing that Pune based customization firm-par-excellence, DC Design and its chief Dilip Chhabria were brought in.

"The idea was to create a different paradigm in bus transport, and to spoil the passenger silly", says Dilip Chhabria, head honcho of DC Design. "It was all about allowing the man on the street to aspire to travel in the privacy, exclusivity, ambience and comfort of business class, at about half the price of an economy air ticket", he adds. "Nilgiris Supermarket Chain was the first self-service supermarket in India and pioneered the concept of retail shopping experience in India", comments Prabhu Ramachandran, Director, Blue Hill Group, "Luxuria we believe will be a true trend setter in travel in India. The designs of the buses are a true embodiment of style by  Dilip Chhabria and will become a benchmark in travel".

The base was selected as the multi-axle Volvo B9R, now prevalent on most Indian highways as the preferred choice for plush intercity transport. The real changes and challenges however were in creating an interior package that offered the comfort, convenience and ambience of the highest order. The comfort aspect was handled by high-grade leather reclining seats, with electronically controlled settings for everything ranging from lumbar to calf support.

The seats, which were designed and crafted completely by DC Design, began with the brief of creating aircraft standard seating - and have delivered in every aspect. From the right amount of cushioning in the right places for comfortable long distance travel to independent controls for setting back rest position, extending the calf support and adjusting its height, every seat in the bus aims to provide the best perch for discerning travelers. Buttons for calling the purser, switching the reading and ambient LED lights and connections for the entertainment system have all been ergonomically placed, well within the reach of the occupants.

When it came to convenience, the Luxuria buses once again go the full length to create a plush and fulfilling experience. With a dedicated pantry located at the back of the bus, equipped with two microwave ovens and two refrigerators, pursers on the journey will be all set to serve warm, delectable food and cool beverages on the way.

The designers at DC Design have also provided a lavatory at the rear of the bus, which essentially means a non-stop journey from embarkation to destination, with hygiene and ease. Entertainment has also been taken care of to ensure that passengers remain in good spirits through their journey. 10-inch LCD displays, mounted on the roof before every seat offer freshly beamed broadcasts from the mobile dish TV mounted on the bus, apart from on-demand movies and songs.

The entire bus is also Wi-Fi enabled, so jet setting business passengers can take care of the emails on the go. When it comes to creating the right ambience, we have seen DC Design prove its mettle time and again, and the Luxuria buses are no different. White LED lighting on the floor creates a cheerful ambience, blue lights hidden behind the bus walls create warm and mellow moods, while personal illumination is taken care of by dedicated reading lights for every seat. The technical aspects for the setup that will power all these conveniences have also been taken care of, in standard DC style. A Honda genset, UPS supply with batteries and a water tank have all been housed at the rear of the bus. Convenience for the driver and operator has also been taken care of, with a reversing camera display, microphone and PA announcement system installed right next to the driver's seat.

DC Design has already supplied 4 buses to Blue Hill, with an expected output of 4 buses every month. The operators have started off with an initial investment of Rs. 30 Crore for 12 buses, but by the time the entire project is realized in the span of the next seven years, there should be around 250 Luxuria buses plying on the expressways of India, with an investment of Rs. 450 crore. The investment also includes the costs for setting up a dedicated ticketing infrastructure for the project. While the initial target is the IT crowd plying between Bangalore-Chennai and Bangalore-Hyderabad, future routes are being planned around Mumbai-Pune, Delhi-Agra, and Delhi-Jaipur. Clearly, traveling business-class should be in the reach of the common man in the very near future.

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