The Airavat Club Class MercBenz yet again! Thrissur to Bangalore..

This one was a last moment trip. I was desperately searching for tickets for a journey from Thrissur to Bangalore, on a Sunday! Privates were priced out as usual - and I was searching only for STU tickets. I desperately wanted to try the new Kerala RTC Super Deluxe, but only the last row seats existed. That was surely not what I was searching for. The next target was my favorite 2131TRCBNG Airavat Club Class - this one too had only last row seats! Oh! The next option was 1828EKMBNG Merc Benz - this one was a 2115hrs pickup at Thrissur, but never comes or leaves on time. I thought twice before booking on this schedule - just for the dubious distinction. Left with no choices, I booked seat #37.

March 09, 2014:
It was 7pm already. There were no autos anywhere near my home. I had a bad pain on the first great toe joint on the right side - had to literally limp to the bus stop. My dad helped me with my baggage. I got a bus from there at around 1930. The bus was fairly crowded - quite unusual for that service, that too on a Sunday. The bus got more crowded as the journey progressed. I was unable to sit through due to the pricking pain from my toe joint. I was only hoping that the bus dropped me inside the bus station, and not outside as is the norm these days.My prayers were answered - the bus took a left and headed straight to the bus station - I limped out of the bus. The time was just 2030 - I still had over 45 minutes to go for my bus. It drizzled a bit - so I headed to the waiting shelter.

Sometime around 2045hrs, I thought I must move to the fuel station instead - this bus normally parks there. I had the biggest shock in my life - the bus was already standing there! I went there and double checked the registration number with the SMS - it was right! The crew were no where around. Some time later, the conductor came back and shouted "2115 Bangalore".. I was still dazed. Since this was a Merc, I had to leave my bag in the dickey - thanks to the narrow and shallow overhead racks in the bus. The AC was running, and my leg pain kept me glued to the seat. A Bollywood flick was being played as well. Passengers were trickling in one by one - I am sure all of them were shocked to see the bus already waiting for them - the opposite is normally true!
The bus - KA-01-F-9261 of BCD-2.
The bus moved out at 2120hrs - what if he came early, he surely left 5 minutes late. I was thrilled nevertheless with the bus coming early. By now the first movie was over, and the second movie started! The driver showed no urgency as usual. I moved the curtain to see where we were - but Voila! The baby was sleeping on my window! Now, how can I disturb a baby who is sleeping - so just closed the curtain and decided to travel blindfolded! I decided to sleep - I was just about starting to sleep when I felt the bus was stopping somewhere. The bus reversed somewhere, the AC went off followed by the engine - and the conductor shouted out "10 Minutes break"! What? Are you kidding me? The time was 2203hrs, and we were near Mangalam Palam.

The crew walked away - it was like a hot-air oven inside the bus in minutes after the AC went off. I had no option but to limp out of the bus. Remained outside till the crew came back. The bus started off again at 2226hrs - a 23 minute break. I came to know from other passengers that the bus hadn't taken a dinner break at Angamaly - so this was the dinner break! If this change is becoming regular, they need to change the departure time at Thrissur. I slept soon after the bus started. The window facing vents did make things a bit difficult. The prick from the leg did keep reminding me time and again. I somehow found that comfortable position to sleep - and just slept comfortably. I was woken up sometime in between - we were leaving after another break (at Surya??). I slept again - only to be woken up by the ubiquitous "Electraanic City" call - it was 0557 now. I was dropped at Bommanahalli at 0604hrs. The end-to-end running time was 08h44m - including a 23 minute break for dinner, and unknown time for the tea break at the dreaded Suriya!

End Notes: The bus was KA-01-F-8261 from Bangalore Depot-2. The bus had over 4.6lakh kms on the odo. The distance run was 454.4kms (had noted odo readings before start and while getting off as well). The bus was well maintained - far better than the buses from Depot-4. The driver did not lug the engine much, but he was certainly slow. But I guess he maintained pace most of the time. The crew was surely well behaved, and the bus was clean inside out.

Blanket: Yes (a fresh one)
Water: Yes (500ml in a bottle specially labeled "for KSRTC")
Charging Point: Yes (ON throughout the journey)
Entertainment: Available, two movies played

Maintenance: 4.5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 4.5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4.75/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Will I take this service again? Not really - I prefer a bus that originates at my place. But this is a good option nevertheless.