Showing posts from 2015

Palakkad to Bangalore: Orange Travels new Volvo B9R iShift

I had always been fascinated by Orange Travels. Reviews about them remained consistent all the time. I had once booked a ticket by Orange, but couldn't travel by them due to some reason. Years went by. One fine day towards the end of October 2015, I get to know that Orange Travels is entering the super-competitive Hyderabad-Cochin Route. While the competition bought newer Scania buses, Orange came to the route with two brand new Volvo B9R iShift buses. While I was looking for an opportunity to travel by them, came the marriage of a very close friend and fellow busfan Sankar! I did not make a second thought as I went ahead and booked a ticket to travel from Palakkad to Bangalore on Orange Travels. I was eager to see how the new iShift performs and hence booked a seat towards the middle of the bus.

December 07, 2015:
The marriage was in the morning. I left late from home, and reached late for the marriage. After lunch, I left from the marriage venue. The scheduled pick-up time was o…

Bangalore to Thrissur: On Kerala Lines' new Scania 13.7M

I had to attend a very close friend's marriage in Palakkad, which was to happen on a Monday. I was leaving from Bangalore on a Saturday, and that meant I had plenty of options to think of. I was heading to my home in Thrissur to spend a day with parents before heading to Palakkad on Monday morning. I booked my return ticket from Palakkad in a Hyderabad bound bus, so that I could be at home by midnight and go to work the next day without getting late. I was confused about which bus to take while going home. The regular options from both the KSRTCs were available, or I could opt from one of the many private operators. It was around this time that Kerala Lines was introducing their brand new Scania Metrolink 13.7M coach on their age-old Bangalore-Pathanamthitta route, which they consider their home route. Being good friends, I confirmed the availability of the coach in advance, and even got a seat blocked for Saturday evening. The buses were delivered late on Wednesday night, and wa…

Thrissur to Bangalore: On a Kerala State RTC "Multiaxle"

I was fully undecided about my return journey after my vacation. Air Tickets for Sunday went at high rates, while I couldn't opt for a bus since I needed to be in Bangalore maximum by 4AM on monday. Tickets for buses leaving on Sunday were being sold for astronomical sums as well. I finally decided to take a bus on Saturday instead - and have a nice rest at home on Sunday, so that I can start off fresh on Monday. I decided to look for state buses - I hadn't travelled in a Kerala RTC multi-axle buses in a very long time - almost a year! This was the best opportunity for me to try them again - there were four options, and I briefly considered taking the last bus - but ruled out since that bus would reach Bangalore quite late in the morning. I finally decided to take the last Kerala RTC bus via Salem, which is the 1515hrs Trivandrum-Bangalore service. Booking was done online.

In the run up to my journey, I got a mild hint that I might get the Scania Metrolink 13.7M trial bus for…

First ride on Airavat Diamond Class: Bangalore to Thrissur

Scania was launched in India about two years back. The initial product as only the 14.5M variant, followed by the 12M and the 13.7M variants. The first institutional buyer to purchase the 13.7m variant was the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation. KSRTC went in for a new brand name for the Scanias, and called them the Airavat Diamond Class. The basic question, like everyone asked, was - what is the difference between the Diamond Class and the Club Class. One primary difference was that Club Class used Volvo B9Rs and Mercedes Benz Multi-Axle buses, while Diamond Class used newer Scania Metrolink HD 13.7m multi-axle buses. Club Class buses have a seating capacity of 49 (44 semi-sleeper seats and 5 regular 'executive' seats), while Diamond Class buses have only 46 seats - all semi-sleeper. The fares are the same in both the classes.

Airavat Diamond Class was first inducted into the KSRTC fleet sometime during the end of June 2015. They initially replaced the first set of M…

Pune to BLR: on a Niner Whisky B738

I hadn't flown a Jet Airways B738 anytime before this trip. I had to opt for a Monday morning flight since Sunday evening flights were selling at astronomical rates. It turned cheaper to stay overnight at Pune and take a Monday morning flight instead. The cheapest flight of the day was an IndiGo, and the next was a Jet Airways - the fare difference being under Rs. 300! It made sense to pick Jet over IndiGo - since I'd anyway spend that difference in another way. Ticketing was done on the Jet Airways website itself, and the eticket popped up in my mailbox within minutes.

October 05, 2015:
I was wary of Pune's traffic and hence opted to leave my hotel early. I was also wary about the last minute availability of cabs in Pune (my previous experience was scary). I prebooked a cab the previous night itself, and opted for a 0900hrs pickup. The cab arrived perfectly on time, but checkout from hotel took longer than expected. We started off from there around 0905hrs. As expected, t…

Shirdi to Pune, via Nagar: An MSRTC Experience

I wanted to reach back in Pune before it was too dark - and I wanted to have a very peaceful sleep before I head back to Bangalore on Monday morning. I had the option of taking a private Volvo, or trying my luck in the long distance Volvos that operate out of Shirdi towards places in the South. I ruled out both, and briefly thought of taking a non-ac bus through to Pune from Shirdi. The lure of travelling in an MSRTC Shivneri after long 8 years kept me in suspended animation. Since there were no direct Shivneri services to Pune from Shirdi, I had two options - one, to go to Nashik and take a bus from there to Pune (adds to my travelling distance and time), second - to catch a Shivneri from Ahmednagar (Nagar) - this was the most feasible of options. 
The MSRTC online reservation website is a bit confusing - it doesn't show the pick-up timing at your pick-up point when you search for buses. On searching for Shivneri buses from Nagar to Pune, a list of 15 services popped up - I init…

MSRTC Asiad: Pune to Shirdi

I was very confused when I sat down to book tickets from Pune to Shirdi. I first checked on RedBus and found that only one operator had buses on the Pune-Shirdi route - that was an operator I did not want to travel with. I turned to the MSRTC website, and found no premium buses on the route, but plenty of non-ac buses. I decided to select a bus leaving over an hour after my flight lands - I wanted to be in Shirdi before midnight, since I had opted for an early darshan at the samadhi. I selected a hotel that was right opposite the bus station - so that I'd not have to hunt around for the hotel at night. I finally selected an MSRTC Asiad (now called Hirkani) bus that leaves Pune (Shivajinagar) at 1830hrs, and was scheduled to reach Shirdi sometime before midnight.

Asiad buses are 2x2 non-airconditioned buses operated by MSRTC across the state. These buses were technically called "Semi-Deluxe", they were popularly called Asiad buses since they were introduced around the tim…

First Flight on a Jet Airways B738 - BLR to Pune

Shirdi Calling! It was almost 10 years since my last visit to Shirdi Sai Baba Samadhi. I've never been a hardcore devotee, but always cherished this dream of being in Sai Baba's abode once again. My plans of going there never happened for a long time. I had almost booked my ticket once - but had to drop it since it was rush time at Shirdi then. After rejecting a lot of dates, I finally decided to do a quickie to Shirdi - a weekend was opted, and I had the task of getting tickets. Taking a bus was out of question - for two reasons: They were expensive, and I didn't have as much time to spare. After the routine hunting around for good fares, I got them on the Jet Airways website. The outbound and return tickets were ticketed seperately.

So finally my trip looked like this:
9W2847 BLR PNQ 1545 1705 October 03, 2015
9W2842 PNQ BLR 1125 1255 October 05, 2015
- And a few bus journeys thrown in between to connect to Shirdi from Pune and back.

I was excited from the moment the e-…