Bangalore to Thrissur - Kerala RTC Volvo B9R

A four day weekend in October - coinciding with Gandhi Jayanti - was an indication for yet another trip home. I had decided to book on either of the KSRTCs for my trip. KaSRTC opened tickets one month in advance - the tickets in regular buses itself were overpriced on the opening day itself. I did not feel like booking an overpriced ticket knowing very well that they'd not stick to the schedule. So the next option was Kerala RTC. I decided to stay awake at night and book a ticket on the opening day. But my experience during opening day for Onam sent shivers down my spine - I had two back-to-back failed transactions that time. I did not want a repeat of that. I checked for tickets at 00:00hrs on 11-September-2014. The site did not open at all - forget booking a ticket. Since the next day was working, I set an alarm for 5.30am and slept off. Woke up in the morning, and found 4 unsold seats in the 2000hrs Ernakulam Multi-axle. I tried booking one of them, but continuously got an error message saying the seat was "already selected" by someone else. Knowing how the system works, I got ready quickly and rushed to the nearest reservation counter - at Majestic BS. The friendly counter person quickly verified the seats and issued Seat #23 to me. So I had "won" a ticket for the long weekend, in a government multi-axle bus at normal rates!

October 01, 2014:
I had to leave office exactly at 1700hrs in-order to reach home on time, pack my baggage and leave home in time to catch my bus. Although the scheduled pick-up time at Bommanahalli (my pick-up point) was 2025hrs, the bus would in no-way reach before 2100hrs. Sometime around 2030hrs, I called up the conductor on the new official number - I was told that they were yet to reach Shantinagar then. I left home around 2100hrs, and my brother dropped me at Bommanahalli around 2120hrs. Just after reaching there, I called up the conductor once again - now the bus had just departed from Shantinagar BS! That meant I had a lot of time to spend on the road side!!

In the meantime, my friend Gokul called up - he was on board the 1930hrs Thrissur Super Deluxe - and they were just leaving Madiwala. His bus turned up at Bommanahalli around 2145hrs - we exchanged a hi. In the meantime, a lot of Kerala bound passengers started turning up at Bommanahalli - they were for the Deluxe buses to Palakkad (2100hrs) and Thrissur (2200hrs). A couple of Karnataka RTC Airavats passed by as well. My bus turned up at Bommanahalli at 2224hrs - I was the only one to board from here. Mr Sandeep was the conductor and he welcome me with a very warm smile - he was the very same person who worked the inaugural trip of the same service. Interestingly, it was the same bus - RS782 - as well! This was my third trip in the same bus!
The bus: RS782 (An old image)
The bus left Bommanahalli in under a minute - since I was the only one to board. The bus was almost full already - my co-passenger was also seated. I got into my seat - #23, and settled down quick. In the meantime, the conductor came around and checked if I got my blanket. A movie was being played on TV. By now, roads got emptier and this helped us reach Electronic city at 2234 - all the seats filled up here, and we got moving at 2235hrs. We overtook the Thrissur bound Airavat Club Class here (2111hrs from Shantinagar). Attibele toll gate was a mess as usual - we took about 8 minutes to pass this toll gate (passed at 2258hrs). Thankfully, there was no traffic block at the Zuzuwadi checkpost and we could pass Hosur by 2307hrs.

The bus pulled in for dinner at the dreaded Hotel Uthaiya (now Hotel Nandhini) at 2342hrs - this is a messy place with overpriced food. Almost every item sold at the stalls here are overpriced. This place is a favourite for almost every bus driver - thanks to the free food they are served. Since I had already taken my dinner from home, I had nothing to do but roam around. We started off after the break at 0013hrs. The conductor was professional in approach - he did a headcount before starting. He came around and checked if anyone had any request as well. Once the bus was back on the highway, the driver liberally used the cruise control - the engine sounded really calm and relaxed. Since the bus kept constant pace, it aided in a very nice sleep. I slept from Krishnagiri toll upto Coimbatore Athupalam toll - I woke up when the bus was passing through this toll gate (approximately 0425hrs).

I slept again, and was woken only when the bus stopped at Palakkad Bus Station, and the conductor called out for passengers alighting there - the time was 0528hrs. The bus started towards Ernakulam at 0529hrs itself - they did not waste time trying for getting passengers from there. I tried sleeping again - but the rough road after Palakkad made the bus sway a lot and it disturbed my sleep. I slept on-and-off through the stretch. We stopped at Vadakkencherry (0607) and Pattikkad (0630) to drop passengers. The driver actually felt "at home" on two-lane stretches, since he was calculating his overtakes perfectly well, and did not make any rash or dangerous cuts anywhere in this stretch.

We finally passed Mannuthy at 0640hrs. I did not get off at Sakthan stand (as is my norm usually), but continued to the KSRTC bus station. We reached there at 0650hrs. We were perfectly on schedule even though the bus left quite delayed from Bangalore. The travelling time from Bommanahalli to Thrissur turned out to 8h26m including a 31 minute dinner break. The bus did not overspeed anywhere - the driving was absolutely sleep friendly as well. What surprised me was that the Bangalore-Trivandrum Special bus (Multi-axle) which left Bangalore at 1800hrs, was still standing at Thrissur!! This clearly meant that our bus had performed excellently that night.

End Notes: The bus was RS782, KL-15-A-280, of Ernakulam Depot. I did not check the odometer reading, but it should've clocked somewhere around 90K kms. The bus was in excellent condition - inside out. The interiors were clean and smelt fresh. Blankets were neatly folded and kept on the overhead rack, instead of keeping them on seats. The conductor checked if all the passengers got blankets as well. The driving was absolutely sleep friendly - no honking, rash cuts or hard brakes anywhere. The driver did not waste time on unnecessary tea breaks either - which is often a norm with Airavats. Overall, that was one Garuda Multi-Axle journey that I'd cherish forever.

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Yes (On throughout)
Entertainment: Yes (A movie played)

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Will I take this service again? Absolutely! Its a bit expensive compared to Airavat Club Classes - but its perfect on timings. Hasn't disappointed me yet.

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