A quick trip to Bengalooru...

The New Year brought an interesting brochure to the college - a training programme at National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bangalore. I had been wanting to head to Bangalore (er! Bengalooru) for long now - and this programme was the right chance. The registration process was a bit chaotic and misinformed. The initial glitches meant the number of classmates attending the programme nose-dived from a mighty 8 (not including me) to 1 (not including me). The ticketing process too was chaotic, and I finally ended up traveling alone.

The initial glitches notwithstanding, I was looking forward to have a good time traveling and an equally good time at the training programme. The day of my journey came in pretty quick - to be very precise, the journey was on January 07, 2010; Thursday. Private buses were striking on the day (the strike was withdrawn than evening), and traveling to Thrissur from my home was shroud in thick cloud (oh! I just forgot this - I was boarding my bus to Bangalore from Thrissur). I headed out of home at around 1930, to board my bus departing at 2130.

I hired an autorickshaw from my home to Kodungallur bus station - the 2.5 kilometre ride cost me Rs. 45 instead of the usual Rs. 30 - thanks to the private bus strike. I headed to Kodungallur on the hope of getting into a special KSRTC bus that evening. However, there were no buses anywhere in sight at the bus station. However, there were lots of passengers waiting for buses, and this lent some confidence to wait-and-watch. There were a couple of taxis, but no drivers anywhere in sight. After about 15 minutes of agonising wait, two KSRTC buses arrived back-to-back at the bus stop. Unfortunately, both were heading to Irinjalakkuda, and not Thrissur.

Fortunately though, another bus was seen in the horizon, and that turned out to be a special to Thrissur. The bus was RT340 (KL15/5518) of Thrissur depot. The conductor had the traditional ticket rack instead of the newer Electronic Ticketing Machine. The conductor was seen searching through the list of stops to find what stage did I board at, and the good-old procedure of searching for the ticket of the appropriate denomination and then marking the correct stage happened. The driver was already ripping through, and the bus made the characteristic Cummins whistle everytime he depressed the accelerator. The crowd inside the bus was moderate. We crossed KSRTC buses in the opposite direction, pretty frequently - a sight I loved very much! I've always been a fan of KSRTC buses, and have been waiting to see KSRTC buses on the Thrissur-Kodungallur route for long.

The bus dropped me at Thrissur KSRTC bus station, dot at 2114 - about 55 minutes since the bus started from Kodungallur. This running time was lesser than the running time usually taken by Private buses - but the ride was far more comfortable and felt safer. My bus was scheduled to arrive/depart at 2130. I still had about 15 minutes to go, and decided to have a walk around inside the bus station. Buses were being "double-parked" (I mean one parked behind the other) at each platform, and the crowd departing out by each bus was heavy. The heavy rush of Sabarimala pilgrims made matters worse.

The clock ticked past 2130, but there were no signs of my bus appearing - that was pretty expected since it was a Karnataka SRTC bus. For some reason, Karnataka SRTC's buses never seem to stick to their schedules. This mars the overall image of their service, despite a stain-less and professional service offered inside the bus. A couple of passengers waiting for my bus passed a remark that the bus was "perhaps late" - to which I replied, it never is on time. The clock ticked past 2200, but there were no signs of my bus. Around this time, the Kerala SRTC Volvo to Bangalore came in - this bugger was just 10 mins late, despite having run over 250 kms since origin. The wait was getting tiring, and frustrating.

The 2100hrs Rajahamsa to Bangalore arrived only at 2200 - this kind of explained what more was in store for me. However, the more-or-less on time arrival of the Kerala SRTC bus just proved that there were no traffic problems anywhere enroute. The bus finally rolled in at 2240 - over 70 minutes late. Given the fact that the service was introduced only recently, I expected a newer bus to turn up - but what turned up was an early MKIII bus - KA01-F-8297. This bus was clearly over 3 years old, and showed signs of ill-maintenance and aging. We pulled out of Thrissur only at 2244 - thats a delay of 74 minutes. My co-passenger was hell-bent on not letting me sit or sleep properly - the not-so-gentle man kept dropping his hand on me very often, and sat with his legs far apart. The window glass was creaking at every uneven surface on the road, and the sound from the front axle was irritating me to no end.

"My" Bus during the break near Krishnagiri

I somehow managed to get some sleep - only to be disturbed very frequently by my co-passenger's snore. The AC was set pretty low - almost obviating the need for a blanket. Sleep somehow overpowered all the factors that were against me, and I fell asleep pretty soon. I woke up only when the bus stopped for a break near Krishnagiri. The conductor shouted aloud about the break, which woke me up. We stopped at 0550, and started off at 0605. The place was closer to Krishnagiri - but could not get more information. The driver took an off and the conductor now took charge. While the actual driver was very lousy, the conductor appeared pretty energetic. This guy kept the bus speeding through the journey.

I dozed off soon after we pulled out of the hotel. I vaguely remember seeing the bus rushing through Hosur. I slept off again. I woke when the bus shook violently as it passed over a rough patch on the road - Welcome to Karnataka, with a roll!!! I was right - were had just passed the border, and we were crawling through Attibele then. I was partially sleeping at this time, and took me pretty long to understand where we were. I called up home to inform of my location, so that my brother to reach on time to pick me up. Unusually though, my brother landed up at the bus stop much before my bus did. The bus dropped me off at Bommanahalli, at 0725 - Almost 140 minutes past the scheduled arrival time! The KSRTC website had claimed that the bus would reach Satellite Bus station on Mysore road at 0530, which is atleast 20 minutes by road (during early hours) from Bommanahalli.

All in all a very disappointing journey, left me re-taking my old decision to not travel by Karnataka SRTC Volvo anymore. On all my recent journeys, Karnataka SRTC ensured that the bus was late - and this journey was no different. Hopefully, my return journey this night wouldn't re-invent the wheel.


Akshay said…
I was never happy with the performance of the Karnataka SRTC because I always felt that they take too much time. Besides, the traffic in Bangalore is miserable nowadays. It just extracts the fun out of the full journey.

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