UTC’s Volvo Bus Service (in some cases Scanias as well) is their top of the line luxury bus service that is run from Delhi, Gurgaon, Katra, Jammu, Manali and Chandigarh to Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Ramnagar, Haldwani, Rudrapur, and Bajpur.
Of course, it is quite another thing, that in case of Kumaon, Volvo bus service is only run from Chandigarh, Dehradun, and Delhi to Haldwani, Ramnagar (for those heading to Corbett) and Bajpur. Leaving majority of the Volvo buses to operate from Dehradun.
Sadly though, none of the Volvo buses are operated in hills. So these will take you to the foothills i.e. Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haldwani, and Ramnagar and after that, you will have to either take a ordinary bus or a taxi rest of the way.
That negative point aside, UTC’s Volvo Bus service is really a boon and although Volvo bus service from multiple private operators and even UPSRTC etc. is available on these routes, I prefer to take the UTC Volvo. Because:
- They run from ISBT Kashmere Gate (for Garhwal) and ISBT Anand Vihar (for Kumaon).
- They mostly ply on time and usually reach their destination before time.
- They rarely if ever over speed. In fact most of the time, they run at 80 kmph or less.
- Since they are operated by Government of Uttarakhand, they can be relied upon more than private operators and are safer as well.
Having said that, even the older Volvo buses from UTC aren’t maintained extremely well. So there is always a chance that you can end up in a bus, which isn’t clean. Though in comparison to the UTC AC buses, these are in better condition.
You also get a free water bottle at the start of the trip, which is nice. Sadly though, you have to pay Rs. 10 per bag, in order to load your luggage into the belly of the bus. And since the storage bin above the seats is barely deep enough to take anything larger than a laptop massenger bag or a purse, you will likely end up shelling out this amount.
The AC, on the other hand, is much more effective than the AC Bus and ride quality, miles ahead thanks to the air suspension. In fact, traveling on the Rampur – Rudrapur stretch when the entire highway was full of potholes, was more comfortable than in most mid-sized cars. As it can be seen in this video.
Another plus point is that these buses generally stop at good restaurants en route, which are costlier, but they don’t fleece customers like the dhabas where the ordinary road transport buses stop. Plus you can be assured of clean toilets at places the Volvos stop.
One of the major reasons why I generally avoid traveling in a Volvo during a trip to Kumaon is, the night service reaches Haldwani in the wee hours of the morning and by then, the majority of the buses heading to the interiors of Kumaon are gone. So you have to rely on a taxi instead. In case you’re just traveling to Nainital, Bhimtal, Almora etc. then you need not worry since there are plenty of buses for these places throughout the day.
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.