The running time of these buses are 3 hours and 30 minutes, covering a distance of 152 kilometres. The buses have pickup points at Dadar, Chembur (Maitri Park) and Vashi (Highway Junction). In the return direction, the pick up points are Pune Railway Station, Pune University and Aundh. The fare for an end-to-end journey is Rs. 200 (for adults; Rs. 105 for Children under 12 yrs). There is no on-board conductor in these buses. Tickets have to be purchased from MSRTC staff at the boarding point. Advance reservation facility is available, and the reservation charge is Rs. 10 per passenger. The buses stop at the Food-Plaza right after Talegaon Exit in the Dadar-Pune Journey, and there is no halt for Pune-Dadar buses (except for a break for answering nature's call near Khalapur Toll plaza!).
Each passenger is provided a copy of "Mid-Day" Newspaper, and a 200ml bottle of packaged drinking water. About 15 buses are used for the service, and the buses are mostly 2-4 years old! Buses bearing "MH 12" mark are 3-5 years old, while the ones with "MH 11" mark are newer ones (2-3 years old). The buses are based at Mumbai's Parel Depot.
In addition to these "Shivneri" services, MSRTC has now introduced "Mahabus" services. These buses operate from 0715 to 1715 (Ex-Dadar) with a frequency of 60 minutes. They are 35-45 seater Air conditioned buses of Tata/Ashok Leyland/King Long make.
I had two experiences on MSRTC Shivneri buses last week. The first one was on 27 January 2007. The bus was MH 12 AR 9736. It departed from Dadar at 1830 (Sch. Time 1830). All the 45 seats were full right from the starting point! The bus reached Pune at 2200.
My second experience was on 01 February 2007, and the bus was MH 11 T 9231. (The one in the image above!). The bus departed from Pune station at 1250 (Sch. Time 1300). Out of the 45 seats, 20 were occupied from the starting point. At Aundh, 3 more passengers got in. The bus had an occupancy level at a little above 50%. The driver never exceeded 100kmph on the Express highway, and drove the bus with utmost care. He slowed down at curves, took adequate precaution while overtaking. He never braked hard. That was a beautiful journey. He reached Belapur CBD in about two hours and 10 minutes!
Closing remark: This service is always recommended. If you are planning to travel during weekends (Friday evening to Monday morning), Book your tickets in advance. The buses get filled up right at the starting point. Though the rate for the ticket seems to be a bit high for the short journey, it is seriously worth it! Private operators too operate Volvo buses at frequency of 15-30 minutes, they charge Rs. 200 during weekends/holidays, and Rs. 180 on other days! Their service is not very dependable since they wait until the bus gets full!
Addendum: MSRTC Volvos are currently (as of September 2007) run on the following routes:
Dadar-Pune Station; Thane (Vandana) - Pune (Swargate); Mumbai (Parel) - Hyderabad.