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First class travel now on our roads

The sitting arrangement on some of the luxury busses in East Africa is fashioned on the same lines as those of an aircraft. However there are three classes instead of two – the VIP, Business and Economy classes. But in a few buses, VIP and Economy classes are merged.

The VIP section comprises four seats located in the front of the bus. Those in the middle are packaged as business class while those at the rear are economy.

At Oxygen, a VIP ticket will cost you Sh. 2,300 while the same will go for Sh. 1,800 in the Mash and Spanish buses. The economy and business classes cost anywhere between Sh. 1,200 and Sh. 1,600 depending on the bus. The difference between the seating sections is that VIP seats are spacious with more leg space. You also get first priority when the hostesses serve bites and drinks.

Charging port

When traveling VIP, one does not have to scramble for a charging port as they are enough. The VIP section in Mash buses is partitioned with curtains just like the first class segment on a plane. In the other sections of the bus there are two pairs of seats on either side of the walkway that are also spacious and adjustable.

In the low cost buses, the seats are smaller to accommodate three passengers on one side of the walkway and two on the other. The cramming, which is meant to compensate for the low fares, leaves insufficient leg room.

The seats also cannot recline in case a traveler wants to take a nap during the journey. And adding to the squeezing and cramming, passengers can only get fresh air by opening the windows. However, over in the pricier buses, passengers enjoy the luxury of air conditioners throughout the journey.

Packed food

Inside the Oxygen bus, we were offered a 250 ml ready-to-drink juice and two small packets of mixed nuts.

On the way back from Mombasa, aboard a Mash Cool Aircon bus, we were offered a 500 ml bottle of water, a 300 ml bottle of soda and a packet of biscuits. But while the Oxygen bus had a working air conditioner and WI-FI, the Mash Cool bus lacked these. At the Spanish buses, the experience is even better.

Through a partnership with a Mombasa restaurant, travelers get packed lunch or dinner. The menu includes pilau, chicken burger or shawarma (a Mombasa delicacy)

Searches and dropping passengers in designated drop off points

This ensures that it is possible to track passengers who commit crimes along the way.  Prior to this security measure, some passengers were known to dupe drivers into dropping them off in secluded spots before robbing the travelers and taking off.

Drivers are also forbidden from picking up passengers along the way save for several designated bus stops. In case a driver flouts this requirement, travelers can report them to the management by calling a number prominently displayed inside the bus.

These services however are not afforded passengers who travel in low coat buses. These buses can leave for far off destinations before they are full and the crews are allowed to pick up passengers along the way.

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