The KSRTC Garuda... after long...

After a very thrilling trip to Bangalore, and an even thrilling road trip to Mumbai, it was time to head back home in Kerala. I had contracted Viral Fever during my stay and was still on drugs on the day of my journey (rather, i made a visit to the Doctor just that morning). Despite the fever, my plans to return home on the Kerala State RTC Volvo - which is called Garuda - was to go ahead (and this is despite strong reactions from home).

On the particular day, my brother offered to drop me at Corporation Circle. Now KSRTC buses operate from the Mysore Road Satellite bus station and hence boarding from the origin is a damn pain. Although they offer boarding at Madiwala, I opted to join the bus right from the starting point. We started off from home, only to get stuck in heavy traffic blocks on each route we took. We had to change our course thrice to beat the traffic, and finally got into one that was less crowded - albeit longer in distance.

I was dropped at Corporation Circle exactly at 1600. Much to my happiness a bus working G-6 was waiting at the bus stop. This bus heads to Kengeri Satellite Town via the satellite bus station. I got into the bus - which had just about 4 passenger then, and took a good seat on the left side. The bus showed no signs of movement till 1605 - I was slightly tense. I decided that I'd dump the bus and take a rick if the bus did not move till 1610. But lo! At 1609 the engine roars to life, and dot at 1610, the conductor shouts "Rightsssss"... The bus slowly inches forward. We were too lucky that all signals till KR market turned green exactly at the moment we reached there.

The bus waited at KR Market for some agonising moments, and then continued its journey - only to crawl around Chamrajpet. After some more painful moments, we were on Mysore road. But - the traffic was at a standstill here! The bus driver, however, managed to keep finding spaces and kept pushing through. After some damn tensing moments, the bus almost reached the bus station. BUT! Dash-Clang! A KSRTC bus driver banged on to the rear glass of my bus - the glass cracked pretty badly and our driver had no option but to park the bus on the road side. And, I had no option but to get on to the road and run!

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The Big10 bus that brought me almost upto Satellite bus station...

The time was already 1650, and my bus would leave at 1700. Kerala SRTC is always known for their punctuality, and I did not want to take a risk. I saw some quite interesting buses on my way - but there was no time to pick my camera! My bus was still there - the time was 1655. I got into the bus, the conductor checked my ticket. I got off the bus, and ran straight to the washroom. I got back to the bus exactly at 1658. By now, the conductor was counting if everyone was inside the bus - and if people were occupying the correct seats. The driver was all set to back the bus out of the parking, and to head on to the roads.

Exactly at 1700, the gear was slotted to reverse, and the 16-tonne whale slowly moved backwards. The driver working my bus on the day was the same guy who worked my first ever trip on a Kerala RTC Volvo. I had experienced his caliber once, and was looking forward to another show of his excellence. We slowly crawled out of the bus station. However, the bus appeared to resist the climb. We entered Mysore road (towards Bangalore) and the crawl began. It took 20 minutes for us to reach Gopalan mall from the bus station - that is just a couple of kilometres! We slowly inched towards the flyover - but instead of going up, the driver went below. That was the beginning of another crawl. Three traffic signals, and lots of traffic was in store for us.

We crawled through Chamrajpet, then to JC road, and finally to Lalbagh. I somehow felt that the route through the flyover would have been faster. The crawl was even slower from Lalbagh. The crawl continued all the way to St John's hospital signal. We were finally at Madivala at 1820 - that is a solid 80 minutes to cover just 12 kilometres. Some four passengers joined us at Madivala. The crawl continued after Madiwala. The driver made yet another wrong move at Bommanahalli - instead of take the service road on the left, he continued on the main road - which remains blocked during evening hours with vehicles waiting to take a right turn.

The bus kind of eased up after Bommanahalli. We picked up speed pretty quickly and kept doing a pretty good speed all the way. There were some deviations on the way, and some slowdowns owing to them. The bus suddenly screeched to a halt, and pulled over to the left side, some where after Chandapura, but before Attibelle. The conductor was talking to someone in a slightly heated tone. The bus showed no signs of movement even 5 minutes after the halt - i spoke to the driver to find what was wrong. He responded - a reserved passenger was left behind near Electronic City. The said person had booked a ticket with boarding point at Madiwala - he later called up the conductor and requested for change of boarding point to Electronic City. This was immediately agreed to, but on the condition that the passenger had to be waiting on the road and flag down the bus.

The driver saw none of these, and kept going. The passenger called up when he did not see the bus - but a whole 30 minutes after the promised arrival time at his stop! The driver agreed to wait, but asked the passenger to rush. The guy came in at 1920 - after 15 agonising minutes of wait for the rest 35 passengers in the bus. The driver asked everyone to rush in, and he quickly started off. The conductor came around to the seat, and gave his mindful to the passenger. Meanwhile, our journey continued. The AV system was playing some malayalam flick, but the disc was getting stuck pretty often.

I was tired of seeing the movie getting stuck, and decided to doze off for a while. Oh! I forgot this - I had packed dinner from home, and downed the food whilst the bus was waiting for that passenger chasing our bus. I couldn't sleep since the movie was still blaring. We made a brief halt outside Hosur bus station, around 1940. Nobody boarded from here. I slept immediately after we started from Hosur. I had a straight sleep, and woke up just as the bus pulled in for dinner break. The time was 2125 now - and the place was Thoppur. I got off the bus and walked around to click a couple of pics.


My bus - RA100 - during the dinner break at Thoppur...

I downed a cup of tea and purchased a bottle of water too. The bottle I had taken from home was already empty. The dinner break was about 25 minutes long. We got back to the road at 2150. The bus was pretty late already (100 minutes) and the driver had a mammoth task at hand to get the bus on time to Trivandrum. He quickly picked speed once back on the highway, and we cruised through Salem at around 2225. Another movie was played now. I watched for some time, and then slept.

I was too drowsy - hence made it a point to remind the conductor to wake me up at Thrissur. I had an uninterrupted sleep till about 0230 in the morning. I initially thought we were still in Tamil Nadu looking at the paintings on walls along the board - but suddenly realised we were in Kerala after I saw road signs in Malayalam. A while after I woke up, the conductor came around calling out for a passenger who was to alight at Thrissur by-pass junction (Mannuthy). The conductor found the passenger after about 5 minutes of calling out. The bus dropped the guy at around 0240, and continued to Thrissur city. I got out of my seat as we reached Swaraj Round at the heart of Thrissur City.

It was too difficult to stand inside the bus, since the driver was trying to get the best out of empty roads in the city. The bus finally glided into Thrissur bus station at 0255 - about 95 minutes past the scheduled arrival time. However, the conductor had mentioned that the normal arrival time at Thrissur is 0300. The bus had a 10 minute halt as the bus station - as the crew and some passengers went for some refreshment. The bus went out at 0305. Thrissur bus station was busy at this hour, and buses were heading to almost all parts of the state at this hour.

I initially planned to wait till the first bus to my place - that leaves only at 0445. By sheer luck, I spotted a bus waiting to depart towards Guruvayur then. I immediately got into this bus, and took a ticket to Guruvayur. Although that is a circuitous route, it was better than standing for almost two hours at the bus station - which was too crowded. The bus was coming from Kattakada - near the capital city. The ticket cost me Rs. 22, and the run lasted about 25 minutes. I reached Guruvayur at around 0340. The first bus toward my place from Guruvayur leaves at 0400, and that bus was already parked, ready for departure. I hurried into that bus, and took a seat near the rear door.

This bus started off exactly at 0400 - with most of the seats taken. The driver took maximum advantage of empty roads, and he simply zipped through. What took me completely by surprise was that there was a ticket checker on board, and he checked tickets of all passengers on board. The bus got jam-packed at Thriprayar - the crowd was of the kind that one sees at peak hours. I later found there was some festival at Thriprayar the previous night, and all the crowd were people returning from the temple. However, a co-passenger in the bus said the first bus is always crowded, but not to the extent seen on that day.

That bus dropped me at Kodungallur, near the temple, at around 0510. Had I waited for the first bus at Thrissur, there was no way I'd have reached my home before 0600. However, taking the longer route cost me Rs. 22 + Rs. 22.50 = Rs. 44.50 in bus fares alone and a running time of almost 100 minutes, while a direct bus would have taken only about 60-70 minutes and Rs. 19.50. Whatever be it - I was back home early! Although pretty delayed, I loved the run on the Volvo. I was traveling in one after a whole 5 to 6 months!

Comments

Manish said…
Hi,

Although they offer boarding at Madiwala, I opted to join the bus right from the starting point.

Just curious - why did you not board at Madivala, which would have saved you quite some time (I presume you were residing near Bannerghatta Road)?

The bus waited at KR Market for some agonising moments, and then continued its journey - only to crawl around Chamrajpet.

Interesting - several of the buses (non-Big 10) I have been in that passed through KR Market towards Mysore Road took the flyover ramp immediately after the market, and descended directly onto Mysore Road. But I presume the Big-10 picks up quite a bit of patronage at Chamarajpet, hence it is routed that way.

We were finally at Madivala at 1820 - that is a solid 80 minutes to cover just 12 kilometres.

I have always been curious as to why KSRTC (and SETC) buses originating from Satellite towards Hosur Road take the route through the city, instead of using the ORR, which is much faster (the only major traffic spot is at BTM Layout) upto Silk Board (the boarding point could be relocated to BTM or Bomanahalli). From Deepanjalinagar to Silk Board, it takes 45 minutes via ORR by bus, but over 75 minutes via KR Market by bus (with negligible transit time).

We got back to the road at 2150. The bus was pretty late already (100 minutes)

Did the bus have a scheduled halt at Thoppur, or was there some sort of WTT that you used to calculate the delay? Also, was the halt at Thoppur at a bus stand or some highway dhaba?

You seem to have had quite a good run after Salem, given that you took just four and a half hours from there to Thrissur - even 6315 takes 5.5 hours with a double electrified line :-)

A couple of questions:

1. Is the Krishnagiri-Salem section of NH-7 four laned? I have traveled on ths road only upto Krishnagiri (upto which there was four-laning).

2. The Salem-Kochi section is supposed to be four-laned under NHDP. Any idea as to the extent of progress on this stretch?

Thanks in advance.
Binai.K.Sankar said…
Hello,

I have always been curious as to why KSRTC (and SETC) buses originating from Satellite towards Hosur Road take the route through the city, instead of using the ORR, which is much faster (the only major traffic spot is at BTM Layout) upto Silk Board (the boarding point could be relocated to BTM or Bomanahalli).

I always wonder why should be operating out of Satellite - when this bus station is no where on their route. These buses take the city route so that they can pick up some passengers on the way. Also note that SETC does not operate out of Satellite. KaSRTC has pick up points at Shantinagar and Dairy Circle which cannot be served if the bus runs via ORR - which is much more crowded than the city these days. Plus moving out the pick up point from Madivala would be losing more passengers to private buses - who still continue to start from Kalasipalya and crowd around Madiwala.

Did the bus have a scheduled halt at Thoppur, or was there some sort of WTT that you used to calculate the delay?

Experience boss - have been traveling on this route for quite some time.

Also, was the halt at Thoppur at a bus stand or some highway dhaba?

A Dhaba...

You seem to have had quite a good run after Salem, given that you took just four and a half hours from there to Thrissur

The bus has an MPS of about 130kmph compared to 110 for the train. There are no PSRs or TSRs on the road, and it is upto the driver to speed up or not. The bus also seemed to have taken all the by-passes (the bus was almost full and the first alighting point was at Thrissur).

1. Is the Krishnagiri-Salem section of NH-7 four laned? I have traveled on ths road only upto Krishnagiri (upto which there was four-laning).

This section was four-laned back in 2007 itself (this was when I traveled on this road for the first time).


2. The Salem-Kochi section is supposed to be four-laned under NHDP. Any idea as to the extent of progress on this stretch?


No idea about the section in TN. In Kerala, patches of Thrissur-Angamaly are four laned (Angamaly-Edapalli was opened long back. The four-laning is via the by-pass, which starts at Edapalli).
Anand Babu said…
This volvo service is fantastic. I traveled once from Bangalore to Kayankulam. I reached Kayankulam by 0430, and by 0600 I reached by home at Thatta (Adoor - Pathanamthitta route). Only sad point was one private volvo overtook us (SRM - it was a B9R), our driver could not catch up.

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