Cheated! Quite Literally!

Back in October 2010, I had to visit Kottarakkara for some family reasons. It was a day's job and we (I and my dad) decided to leave early in the morning and be back by night. We ruled out driving down to the place due to the horrible state of roads, and taking the bus was a natural choice. Both of us enjoy traveling in the bus, and ruling out the train was a no-brainer. Accordingly, we decided to take the morning Volvo (7 AM) from Ernakulam to Kollam, and then take a local bus to Kottarakkara.

Both of us headed out from home around 5 in the morning on our car on October 3, 2010 - our plan was to leave our car at the railway station (Thankfully, KSRTC does not have parking lots at bus stations) and then take a rick to the bus station. We reached the bus station by around 6.30. I kept wandering around the bus station, while waiting for our bus to turn up. Around 6.50, I decided to enquire about when would be bus be brought. I was shocked at the reply - the bus has been cancelled! By now it was 6.55, and the station master made no announcements about the cancellation! No alternate bus was provided as well!

Finally, an announcement was blurted out around 7 am that the bus has been cancelled. With the announcement being made, all buses headed towards Trivandrum experienced heavy crowd. Left with no other options, we decided to try out a normal bus. A TNSETC bus was heading to Thirunelveli via Kollam - we decided not to take that bus since they take very long time. We got into a Trivandrum bound Super Fast instead (RRE883 of Thrissur). We were just about fortunate enough to get seats - although at one of the rear rows. The bus left the bus station terribly packed. We started off from Ernakulam about 5 minutes past 7 am.

The roads were horrible, and the driver showed no mercy of poor passengers seated at the back - he drove over the potholes with least botheration of passengers, who were now busy doing sit-ups. The bus rushed through the empty roads of Kochi (yeah! The roads were empty despite the clock quickly ticking past 7.30!). More passengers joined the bus at each stop, and by the time we entered the highway, there was not an inch of space inside. We hardly stopped anywhere on the highway, and dashed straight to Cherthala bus station. The halt was brief (hardly a minute). We made another stop at Alappuzha. By now, most crowd had deboarded. There were few standing passengers. We made our next stop at Haripad. By this point, my back was paining badly - thanks to the bad roads, and the careless ripping by the driver.

We got off at Kayamkulam, at 0940 - just two hours and 40 minutes to reach here from Ernakulam. Both of us headed straight to a restaurant (I am not sure if it can be called thus) outside the bus station for breakfast. We were back in about 15 minutes. After this I indulged a bit in busfanning. After some more time wandering up and down, we decided to take the 'next' bus to Adoor. The next bus was RAM33, working the chain service to Punalur (via Adoor, Pathanapuram). I took the front seat, right next to the driver. The bus left from Kayamkulam packed to the core.


The bus took a diversion from the main road (due to some bridge works on the main road), and the road we took was too narrow. The buses ended up losing a lot of time in the route. More and more people joined the bus at each stop, and there was not an inch of space anywhere inside the bus. We came to know of the reason for the crowd later - a temple on the route had a festival that day (Vettikottayilyam). Our bus stopped outside the temple for almost 5 minutes, and in the process the bus emptied out, and filled again! The run to Adoor was eventless. We got off at Adoor. It began pouring down a while before we reached Adoor. From Adoor, we got into RAC999 of Chadayamangalam, heading to Ayoor. It was pouring all the time, and all the shutters remained closed all the time. We got off at Kalayapuram (some distance before Kottarakkara).

From here we headed to our relatives place by car. We returned in the evening - we were dropped at Kottarakkara bus station. Being evening hour, most buses came in crowded. We later got into RRC499 of Punalur to head to Kollam. We had to stand for a while - but the bus emptied by the time we crossed Kundara. After Kundara, I got a good seat and sat down comfortable. We reached Kollam around 6 in the evening. I quickly headed to the enquiry counter and asked for the Volvo to Ernakulam - I was told the bus would come in before 6.30pm (1830). We decided to wait for the bus. While there was a bus every 5 minutes towards Trivandrum, not a single bus towards Ernakulam came.


The wait continued well past 1845, and there was no sign of the Volvo anywhere. I enquired once again at the counter - this time, I asked for the telephone number of the conductor manning the service. He gave me the number, but that was switched off. He called up the Station master at Trivandrum to enquire if the bus left on time - the person at the other end said the service was cancelled! Cheated once again in the day!!! My next question was - what next? The guy at the counter said, a Super Deluxe is expected around 7pm and another AC bus at 7.30pm (1930). We decided to take the Deluxe.

In the meantime, the first bus towards Ernakulam pulled into the bus station - the bus was already crowded, and it got more passengers from here. That bus was a Super fast heading to Mangalore (OMG!). The Super Deluxe (RRC958 of Sulthan Bathery) pulled in around 1910 - the bus was more than half-empty. We took a good seat somewhere in the middle of the bus. It started drizzling by the time we left the bus station - which later turned out into a full fledged downpour. The seats were good, but there was no proper place to rest my legs. I fell asleep soon after the bus entered the highway - I was dead tired after the day long journey. The bus stopped at Kayamkulam for dinner - we did not take dinner from here. I slept immediately after the bus left Kayamkulam. (The bus did enter Alappuzha bus station, but skipped Cherthala bus station). I woke up just as the bus was crossing Mattanchery BOT bridge. I still wonder why do these buses take the route via Thoppumpady instead of running via Vyttila - there buses do not stop anywhere on the route anyways!



We were dropped at Jos Junction around 2230 at night. We took a rick to the railway station, picked our car and headed for dinner. Finally made it home by around 2345 or so. I was cheated twice by KSRTC on that day - the Volvo service was cancelled without any information. The bus stations enroute were completely in the dark about the cancellation. Such cancellations would only drive away passengers - high time KSRTC learnt some lessons on professional management. I am being driven away from KSRTC day-by-day by their behaviour. I stopped using their premium services on interstate routes already - and intrastate is not far off.

Comments

Akshay said…
It is sad to know that the KSRTC authorities trouble passengers this way. The people in power surely need to do something with the bad, bumpy roads. Just reminded of me my cousin's journey from Angamaly to Kottayam. Nevertheless, I actually lived through the experience.

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