Bangalore to Coimbatore by Orange Travels Mercedes Benz

A journey with no specific purpose - one just to enjoy the pleasure of traveling! I had been planning one such journey since a long time. Although there was no specific purpose, I had a target. The initial plan was to travel Bangalore-Chennai-Coimbatore-Bangalore. The logistics didn't really work well and I decided to reverse it. The trip was conceived sometime in the middle of February, but it kept getting pushed back, and finally happened in the first week of March. The booking was very impulsive. I had been researching the various connections I could get, and finally decided on this combination: Bangalore to Coimbatore by Orange Travels Mercedes Benz, Coimbatore to Chennai by KPN Travels and finally Chennai to Bangalore by Parveen Travels. There was one or the other first associated with each journey in this trip.

Selecting Orange Travels for the Bangalore-Coimbatore leg wasn't easy. I did not want to stay overnight in Coimbatore, and at the same time I didn't want to reach too early in Coimbatore. This ruled out all overnight travel options. I had my eye on the umpteen buses that come from Hyderabad. I wanted to be in Coimbatore before 11am as well. Orange Travels fit into my require to the T. Orange had a pick-up time of 0315hrs and promised a drop in Coimbatore at 0845hrs. I booked a ticket through the Orange Travels website - booking is easy, and the ticket reached my mobile and my mailbox in no time. I received tracking information about the bus about 30 minutes before the bus started from Hyderabad - that is, the evening prior to my journey. The tracker was interesting - and I could pinpoint the location of the bus exactly.

March 06, 2016
It was just 0100hrs - my alarm rang continuously forcing me out of my bed. I had slept early the previous night. After getting ready, I had some light food at home, while I waited for the cab to arrive. A slightly run down Indica operated for a cab-aggregator arrived well before the appointed time. The cab driver took the shortest way and dropped me at the boarding point by around 0255hrs - way before the scheduled pick-up time. Orange Travels doesn't have an office in that area - the pick-point is mentioned as "Main Road, Madiwala. Near Police Station, Opp: Total Mall". It was a more-or-less isolated place. The only solace is the 24 hour Fuel station, and the police station. There were some people waiting outside the police station - most of them took TNSTC buses that go to places right across the border. It was a bit scary being in that place - I stood near the entrance of the police station for most of the time.

The tracking website seemed to show that the bus was stationary between Kurnool and Anantapur. I got updated information only when I cleared the cache and reloaded the website. The bus was running about 30 minutes late and had just passed the airport when it was time for it arrive at Madiwala. The bus finally arrived at 0344hrs. A few passengers got off, and a couple of us got in. The crew were in proper uniform, complete with Identity card. The driver quickly checked my ticket and let me in. They waited for sometime for a passenger who hadn't turned up. Since they couldn't contact him on phone either, they called up their office and informed about the passenger. We started off from Madiwala at 0351hrs - a 36 minute delay.
The bus: KA-01-AB-4978. Taken during the break.
As soon as the bus started, the attendant came around with a fresh blanket (quite surprising), their snack box and a 500-ml bottle of water. The front curtains were drawn, and the night lamps were left on. I tried sleeping for some time. We stopped at Hosur to drop a passenger (0415hrs) and then continued the journey. I slept soon after Hosur only to wake up hearing the attendant shouting out for passengers getting off at Salem. The time was around 0610hrs. The bus started after a couple of minutes. The driver seemed to be new on the route, since the attendant was advising him on the route. The driver was quite fast, and he entered the Salem flyover at high speed. The bus took the abuse really well and remained stable on the 270* turn.

I slept again for some time and woke up when the attendant called out a tea break. The time was around 0628hrs - we were probably around Sankari now. I got off the bus, took a stroll, and some photographs. The bus was maintained fairly well - a couple of pairs of extra lights were put up at the front. There weren't any major accident damages on the bus. The break was quick. The drivers changed, and we started off again at 0640hrs. I was quite surprised by the absence of individual charging points. They had installed a charging station in the cabin though - about 6 plug points were lined up there. I plugged my phone there, and moved to the first row (which was now empty).

The bus had a Pressplay entertainment system installed. I installed the app on my phone and watched a movie for sometime. There were two movies each of Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil. I opted for a Tamil movie. The app actually streams the movie over a WiFi system installed in the bus. The stream was continuous. The attendant switched on some music in the bus sometime around 0730hrs - and opened up the front curtain at this time. It was fun to watch the bus cruising down the 4-lane highway at a very brisk pace. The driver was quite honk-happy, and cut lanes very frequently. We turned off the highway and entered the road towards Coimbatore sometime around 0815hrs. The first drop point was Hope College, at 0822hrs. Traffic in the city was building up slowly - despite being a Sunday. The bus turned off the main road after Nava India and headed towards Gandhipuram. The bus stopped outside Gandhipuram bus station at 0838hrs. Majority of the passengers got off here. I continued on to Omni Bus Stand - I was dropped there at 0844hrs - one minute before time!

The bus, KA-01-AB-4978, had clocked about 8.56 Lakh kms. The bus was registered in 2012, and was close to 4 years old. Except a nagging sound from the front axle, there were no rattles or other unwanted sounds from the bus. The suspension seemed to be in good shape - although a little hard. The end-to-end running time was 4h55m, including a 12 minute tea break. I also suspect the bus stopped for refueling on the way, since the fuel gauge showed full when we stopped for tea. Driving wasn't great - both the drivers were fast. The second driver was very honk-happy and cut lanes quite fast. But he did use indicators while changing lanes. The snack box is a great thing - I was damn hungry when I received it. The snack box contained a pack of cookies (2 cookies), a packet of namkeen and a piece of tea cake. They gave out fresh blankets to passengers - the blanket was packed in a plastic cover. Overall a good experience again with Orange Travels. The lack of a proper boarding point is a big negative though - its absolutely unsafe for ladies travelling alone.

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: Yes
Charging Point: Common plug points in the Cabin available.
Entertainment: Available, Songs played. Individual WiFi entertainment also available.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 4.5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 4.5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 (Left late, arrived before time)

Overall: 4.5/5 [Cutting points for not having proper boarding points]

Will I take this service again? Absolutely!

Comments

rahulvijayev said…
Binaieta, After reading your previous travelogues in Merc., I never thought you will be travelling in it again as you were very much disappointed with their window facing AC ducts!
Binai K Sankar said…
I've had 8 trips in Mercedes Benz Tri-Axle, and 2 Trips in Mercedes Benz 12M coaches till date. All of them had this window-facing AC ducts. Although they are an inconvenience, I've not considered them to be a deal breaker yet.
rahulvijayev said…
Thats great Binaieta...Now eagerly awaiting for the trip report of Mercedez Benz Hi-Deck!!

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