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Showing posts from June, 2009

Town-to-Town: The revolution that changed KSRTC, forever...

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I have been a regular on Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses ever since I remember. My parents used to stay in Coimbatore at that time, and KSRTC buses were the main operators connecting Coimbatore to Kerala those days. During those days (early and mid-nineties), KSRTC had services only between major points in Kerala, and most other routes were ruled by Private operators. KSRTC's major services were Fast Passengers, Expresses and "Lightning Express" those days. Superfast buses made their appearance in the early 1990s (1992, to be precise). These services were touted to be a faster alternative to the then predominant Fast Passenger Services. Super Fast buses would stop at lesser number of stops compared to Fast Passengers.
Super Expresses made their appearance some time in the mid 1990s (I remember seeing such buses back in 1997-98). These buses were faster than Expresses. In the lower "strata", KSRTC buses were largely restricted to Ordinary services.…

Trying out the new Airavat 9400....

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June 13, 2009: An urgent "day-long" work had forced me to land up in Bangalore from Kerala. I had described that ride earlier (you may see it here). The ride was truly tiring and almost sleepless. That journey had an effect on me through the day, and at many times during the day I ended up sitting and dozing. I had to get back to Kerala the same evening (since I had to go to Trivandrum for some work on Sunday). Since the day turned out to be a Friday, I had made reservations early.
My initial plans were to take the 1930 Kerala SRTC Air Bus, since that bus has a consistent record of reaching Thrissur on time. The other option that I considered was the 1830 Kottayam AC bus of Kerala SRTC. However, sheer lethargy forced me book on the Karnataka SRTC bus - they offered online reservation and I could book a ticket sitting at home instead of going all the way to the bus station, which was necessary in case of the Kerala SRTC bus. Now, I had another confusion at hand - whether to b…

The KSRTC Super Fast.... after long...

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Sunday, June 14, 2009: The hotel room that I had rented at Trivandrum had a commanding view of Trivandrum Central Railway station and the KSRTC Bus Station. The old KSRTC Bus station building was being brought down to make way for a modern building that would house a lodge and umpteen shops. The announcements being made at the newly build temporary bus station, and the horn of the locos pulling into the railway station kept me in company through the night. Morning was a busy time with me getting late to wake up, and I landed up at the place where I had to be just on time.
On my way back from 'work', I got the first ever opportunity in life to check out the Trivandrum city bus. It was a very old bus of Vikas Bhavan depot that brought me back to my hotel. The way back also included some bus fanning at the City bus terminus and a sneek peak into the Electric Loco trip shed. After a sumptuous lunch at the nearby "high-class vegetarian restaurant", I headed straight to th…

Mangalore to Bangalore on an Airavat....

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June 11, 2009: After a very tiring and hot day, amid heavy crowd attending a wedding, I walked slowly towards an auto rickshaw, which would take me to the KSRTC Bus Station at Kasaragod. I was travelling back to Bangalore, and fortunately without any baggage – other than a small back pack that contained by camera. The bus station at Kasaragod was in shambles, as most part of the land was being utilized to construct a multi-storied bus station. KSRTC recently discovered that the land it held – in the form of bus stations and garages – had a high value in terms of revenue, and the corporation started exploiting the value of these lands by constructing shopping complexes in them. Kasaragod was among the first bus station to go under the exploitation hammer. The one coming up at Kasaragod is called “KSRTC Tulunad Shopping Complex”.
Having a bus station cum shopping complex had many advantages to the passenger, in additionto the revenue that it brings in for the corporation. For the passe…

My first on a Jan Shatabdi

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Jan Shatabdi Expresses were introduced in 2002 by the then Railway Minister, Shri Nitish Kumar (who is currently the Chief Minister of Bihar). The concept of these trains were to provide "Shatabdi express-like" speed, with non-AC accomodation. The concept also included offering a premium service (in terms of onboard services) at a cost affordable to the common man. These trains received specially manufactured coaches, that were fit to run at 120 kmph (compared to 110kmph for normal coaches, and 130kmph for Shatabdi/Rajdhani coaches).
Jan Shatabdi expresses are accorded the same priority as a Shatabdi Express, when it comes to section control and these trains are usually allowed an uninterrupted run. In the initial versions, Jan Shatabdi Expresses (herein referred to as JS Express) had onboard catering, the cost of which was included in the price of the ticket. This concept, however, affected patronage in the train adversely and hence Catering was made optional. The fares coll…

On two legs... finally!

After being on four wheels (Read tyres) continuously for about 5 days, I am back on my feet finally! During the said period, I clocked about 1650 kms on road, and about 206 kms on railways. I started from Bangalore on June 10, 2009, and finally stopped at Kodungallur on June 15, 2009 traveling via Madikeri, Kasargod, Mangalore, Sullya, Bangalore, Mysore, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kodungallur, Cherai, Ernakulam, Trivandrum, Alappuzha, Nedumudy, Vyttila and Varapuzha (Phew!).
The journey was done on different modes of transport, in different legs. Some notes of the journey are here.....
Started from Bangalore by car - I was at the wheels. We (myself with my brother, and sis-in-law) started from home at 0700, and reached Kasaragod at 1350. This includes a 30 minute break (0800 ~ 0830) at Kamat Upachar (Loka Ruchi), near Ramanagaram. The journey was amazing. The roads were good at most parts, except the Kushal Nagar - Sullya stretch.
From Kasaragod, I headed (All alone) to Mangalore by a Karnat…

A whirlwind trip to Chennai.... Part-2

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After a humid day in typical Chennai weather, I got into a chilled box - called the Volvo. That was my first tryst with a volvo operated by MTC, Chennai. MTC had applied heavy film on to the windows, and that ensured that very little exterior light entered the bus. The bus was heading to Thiruvanmiyur from Chennai Central. The bus was chilling cold, but the temperature was too little for the heat that Chennai was reeling under.
A Volvo operated by MTC
The fare was Rs. 23, for a 45 minute ride to Adayar Depot. The bus started off from Chennai Central. MTC buses are fitted with a device that gives off an alarm as soon as the bus nears 60kmph in speed. The pick-up of the Volvo, and the empty roads, meant that the alarm was entertaining passengers almost through the journey. The rear suspension made lots of noise as the bus went over any rough patch of road - a phenomenon exhibited by old Volvos in Bangalore. The bus that I was riding on - TN-01-N-4852 of Central depot - was supposedly of …

A whirlwind trip to Chennai.... Part-1

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I had to head to Chennai on a personal requirement over the weekend. I did the ticketing a while after I landed in Bangalore after the B9R journey from Thrissur. I did think about a lot of options before ticketing - including a couple of private operators - but decided to stick with the tried and tested operator - KSRTC. The icing on the cake would be the fact that I would be getting on to a KSRTC Volvo after good 6 months! My last KSRTC Volvo journey was an amazing journey from Coimbatore to Bangalore.
The KSRTC Online booking portal was behaving wierd during my attempts to book. The process never went even up payment, for long 30 minutes. Finally, on my fifth attempt, the payment gateway appeared and the booking finally went through. I got a ticket on the 1400 departure from KBS, and my favorite seat - Seat #4. This seat is diagonally behind the driver, with a commanding view on the dashboard. Now, I headed for the return reservation. I had a look on the return buses even before I b…

The B9R finally captured.....

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The plan to travel by the B9R was hatched while I was heading to Thrissur from my home in Kodungallur. I was traveling to Thrissur to book my return ticket - and was confused if I should book on the Kerala SRTC or the Karnataka one. It was then that the B9R idea popped up.. I got down near KSRTC bus station, and walked straight towards a Kallada Agent. The office had a huge bannering announcing the introduction of B9R services. 
I book a ticket on the B9R - the agency charged me Rs. 800, and the seat provided was F3. The day arrived. I left home at 1845. I took a bus from Kodungallur at 1950, and the driver dropped me at Thrissur by 2050. The driver did not have to utilise much of his F1 skills, since the road was too empty for heroism. I had a pleasant ride on the bus. Thrissur had more or less closed down by now - most shops had downed their shutter. Just a few shops and a couple of restaurants remained open, catering to many passengers who were arriving at the Bus station. 
I had a s…