While traveling to Uttarakhand, I like to rely on buses rather than trains, since train connectivity is limited to the plains and after that, you have to take the bus anyways. And when it comes to buses, I prefer using Uttarakhand Transport Corporation (UTC), a bus service run by the Government of Uttarakhand.
This is my review of the AC buses run by the UTC. The ticket price of these buses is placed between the deluxe and the Volvo/Scania. And the buses themselves are 2×2 Tata buses, larger and higher than the deluxe buses.
Based on this, they sound like a good compromise between price and comfort.
Yet, in my experience, they are neither here, nor there when it comes to comfort.
Yes, they are more comfortable than the ordinary, semi-deluxe and the deluxe. However, lack of maintenance and cleanliness ensures they are usually dirtier than the Volvo. And also the seat ergonomics and space between seats isn’t as good as a Volvo.
There are also no curtains in some of the buses, so if you like to sleep without the glare of oncoming traffic, you might be out of luck. The suspension and ride isn’t as smooth as what you find in a Volvo, though it is much more comfortable than an ordinary bus.
Getting in and out of the bus is a little more difficult than Volvo, due to the first step of the bus being as high as normal buses and due to lack of air suspension, buses cannot be lowered while parked.
You also don’t get any free water bottle, like in the case of Volvo, so make sure to buy one, before boarding the bus.
Having said that, they do have AC and closed windows, so almost throughout the year, they shelter you from the harsh conditions of the road eg. heat, wind, dust, rain and cold. And the seats recline to a similar degree as the Volvos.
Add to that, the overhead luggage bins are larger than that in the Volvos and Scanias, so you can actually put a backpack in there. Though it isn’t as deep as what you will find in the ordinary buses.
Larger luggage though has to go in the luggage compartment, though at least in case of Delhi – Haldwani route, the conductor discourages that since he prefers selling that luggage space to those trying to send things to Haldwani.
Another plus point of these buses is the fact that they generally stop at much better restaurants en route than the ordinary, semi-deluxe and deluxe buses. I have seen them stop at Bikanervala at times as well, which means clean and good meal along with good restrooms.
Overall, these are a good option if you aren’t in the mood splurge for a Volvo and yet want at least some comfort.
These buses can be booked online through https://utconline.uk.gov.in. However, when you try to access this website, you’re presented with a security warning, which you have to ignore in the browser and proceed anyway.
If you have booked the ticket online, then there is no need to carry printed ticket since conductors have the list of people who have booked tickets online and they let you board the bus by seeing the digital confirmation in the form of email or SMS on your phone.
UTC AC buses in Delhi start from ISBT Kashmere Gate for Garwhal (Dehradun and Haridwar) and from ISBT Anand Vihar for Kumaon (Haldwani and Banbasa).
There are also AC Janrath Buses to Tanakpur, Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Roorkee and Vikas Nagar. However, I am yet to try that service out. Though it is a little cheaper than the normal AC service I have reviewed here.
Do let me know about your experience of traveling in the UTC AC buses by commenting below, happy journey :).