Kozhikode to Thrissur on board a KURTC Low Floor Volvo

I didn't really think a lot when I booked tickets on the KURTC Low Floor bus. I was in Kozhikode for a function, and had to return to my home town in the afternoon. I directly headed to the Kerala Urban Transport Corporation (KURTC) website to look for services after noon. There was only one - a bus leaving Kozhikode at 1510hrs towards Nedumbassery airport. I was quite shocked when I opened the seat layout for this bus - the only left side window seat left was on the last row. A whole lot of seats on the right side were empty - but then, the sun would be on the right. With no choices left, I book the last row window seat on the left side. I got my mobile ticket (SMS) immediately.

March 20, 2016:
It was terribly hot. I was sweating as if I was standing in a rain. I had already downed a couple of fruit juices, and one round of the famous Aval Paal - an innovative milk based recipe with banana, poha(rice flakes), sugar and roasted skinless peanuts - which is a speciality of Kozhikode. Its a cooler and a filler at the same time. They used very crisp poha (rice flakes), which made it a crisp eat - it was topped with ice cream, generous amounts of tutti-fruity as well.
Yummy Aval Paal from Kozhikode..
I walked into the new KSRTC Ghost complex, oh! sorry.. bus station, at Kozhikode around 2pm. It was very hot outside, and I couldn't imagine spending time outside in the hot sun. The new bus station complex is a very awkward design, with the bus bays being fully covered. This meant that the bus station was very dark all the time. The waiting area had a very low roof, increasing the intensity of the heat. I had a horrid time waiting for the bus, and at one point of time desperately wanted the bus to come in.
JN327, being brought to Kozhikode bus station. 
My bus, JN327, came in sometime around 1445hrs from their depot in Pavangad. There was another Volvo already at the platform (this one was to Palakkad) - so my bus parked at the next platform. I waited outside my bus till the driver switched on the ac. The bus seemed to be fully reserved going by the number of passengers who got in. I was right - all the 37 seats were sold already. A few passengers would board on the way though. The AC was switched on about 10 minutes before departure. I got into the bus at this point, and occupied my seat at the last row. The AC was in full force, and cold air blowing on to my face was a real blessing.

The bus started from Kozhikode at 1514hrs - some 4 minutes late (due to some confusion related to the boarding point of some passenger). As expected, the driver took the Mavoor road flyover, and headed straight towards Tondayad bypass, and entered the new bypass road. With no saleable seats left, it made no sense for the bus to go through the city all over again and waste time. Driving was very stable - he maintained speeds in the range of 60kmph (the bus is locked at 60kmph) all the time. I left my phone to charge - yes, the charging points were switched on, and dozed off for sometime. We had a long non-stop run - over an hour, till we reached Changuvetty, where some passengers got inside. Interstingly, a lot of unreserved passengers also turned up, and they were ready to travel standing. We left Changuvetty at 1622hrs.

Another feature I noticed was that passengers had reserved their tickets well in advance - sometimes even a month in advance! We had another stop at Puthanathani (1632hrs). The driving was very good - no hard braking, or rash overtakes. I thought the bus would skip Kuttipuram, since we were already full - but that wasn't the case. The bus went to the bus station (1659hrs), and there were people waiting for it there! More passengers joined - the gangway was packed now. We left Kuttipuram at 1702hrs. The AC was running at full blast all the time, and it was really cold inside the bus. Some passengers asked the conductor if they would stop for a tea break - he said no.

The bus pulled into the parking yard outside KSRTC Regional Workshop Edappal (Kandanakam) sometime around 1708hrs. The conductor announced that people who wanted to use the washroom could use this break, and walked away to the station master's office. People used this opportunity really well. The bus started from here again at 1712hrs. I slept for some time after Edappal. The leg room was really good. The seat, itself, was very ergonomically designed as well. Traffic got thick after Perumbilavu, and the speed lock at 60kmph did not help matters either. The driver struggled a bit to overtake other vehicles though. The road got a little wider after Kunnamkulam. There were no stops anywhere - and being Sunday, traffic was on the lighter side as well. The bus pulled into the KSRTC bus station at Thrissur by 1823hrs - late by about 3 minutes!

The ride was very comfortable and not every expensive (Rs. 243 including reservation charges and other levies - its only Rs. 210 if you buy the ticket on board, but no guarantees of getting a seat). The bus was on time. The speed limit of 60kmph is a bit worrisome - the driver has absolutely no slack, and any traffic blocks were cause major delays. KURTC has been doing exceptionally well with their Nedumbassery Airport (Cochin International Airport) services from Malabar - almost all the buses run to capacity, and is sold out days in advance. These buses are surely raking in the moolah for KURTC. It is, however, worth a debate if its really a good idea running these low floor buses on long routes - KSRTC could've actually purchased regular Volvo B7Rs or atleast 9100s to operate these routes - that would mean more seating capacity, and even better luggage space for passengers - afterall, these buses serve passengers travelling to the middle east, who arrive and depart with large quantity of baggage.

Amenities:
Blanket: No
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, remained On throughout.
Entertainment: Audio entertainment. Classic malayalam songs played throughout.

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

Overall: 5/5

Great service - definitely recommended!

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