A happening day, ending with an unexpected journey in KPN

Note: This report is not of a recent journey - but recollection of a journey that happened over six months ago.

October 21, 2015:
It was a very happening day - a day that started very early in the morning, very tiring and taxing and ended quite late. I am not going into the details. It was sometime around 1530hrs or so [approximate], and I was standing outside the new Sankari bus station near Salem in Tamil Nadu. I had nothing but my camera bag and a bottle of water with me. A couple of buses went by without stopping, before one stopped for me. This was a bus from Erumapalayam-1 Depot of Salem Division of TNSTC-Salem - a fairly new one built on a TATA chassis.
The TNSTC bus that took me from Sankari to Salem..
There was no difficulty finding a seat - I got one on a three seater - a full three seater for me. Leg space was a premium here - can hardly sit without the knee hitting the seat ahead. The driver was quite fast (the only consolation in the otherwise boring journey) - he reduced my agony of having to sit tight. The journey lasted somewhere around 40 minutes or so. I was initially planning to take a TNSTC further to Bangalore (one of the new 3.33 Express guys) - but the seating was a definite put off, and I buried the idea in no time. I was at Salem bus station for the first time, and had a bit of confusion where to head to, in order to get to the nearest KPN office.

KPN is a leading Tamil Nadu based operator (readers of this blog would've read by earlier reviews of KPN) with their Head office at Salem. They operate a lot of services out of Salem to Bangalore (originating as well passing through). With a bit of walking around, I managed to locate their office - I actually walked a longer way. The office was already crowded - with a lot of people waiting for their buses to Bangalore, Madurai, etc. I asked the ticketing guy for a ticket to Bangalore - he asked me to wait, and added that two buses would be coming soon. He will issue the ticket only after the bus arrives, after checking availability of seats.

The first bus to arrive after I reached there was a Volvo B9R from Trichy (1640hrs). The ticketing guy went to the bus, checked the chart, and let reserved passengers first. Passengers for later buses were also given the option of taking this bus, if they wanted to leave early. He signalled me also to get in. I do not remember the ticket fare - no receipt was given, but an entry was made in the waybill (yes, KPN crew carry waybills like government buses). The bus got moving at 1645 itself - leaving me shocked. But the shocked (and joy) was shortlived, as the bus took a U turn and parked on the opposite side! The crew went around trying to get more passengers (official, of course). In the mean time, a Scania headed out towards Bangalore, and its pair went towards Madurai. I would've surely waited if I knew the Scania was behind.
KA-41-A-6999 : The bus that took me to Bangalore..
We finally started off from Salem at 1711hrs. The attendant came around and collected details of every passenger who boarded at Salem. I was too tired and badly wanted to doze off for some time. I was sitting in one of the last rows. The emergency exit door was right behind - the door didn't close fully and there was some amount of air leakage. I plugged the gap with the curtain and dozed off for sometime. The bus did not seem in great shape - it struggled at ghats and the rear suspension rattled off to glory. I slept for some time, and woke up just as the bus pulled in for a break at A2B near Thoppur toll gate (1809hrs). The Scania was already there, just to add more salt to my misery. I hadn't taken lunch that day, and grabbed something to eat - not that I was hungry, but did not want to turn into a gas cylinder.

We started from the hotel at 1838hrs - the Scania was long gone. My bus now tried picking pace - but it was too old and rundown to pick pace. I was too tired to understand anything as well - I just slept off again. The AC wasn't cooling much - but it was comfortable enough to let me sleep. I woke up only when the attendant came around calling out passengers getting down at Bommasandra - we were in Bangalore already! We reached Bommasandra at 2043hrs. I pulled up the backrest and got set to get off at Silk Board. The bus took the elevated highway after Electronic City, and I was dropped at Silk Board at 2112hrs.

The bus, KA-41-A-6999, was about 4.5years old then, and had already clocked 10.4 Lakh kms by then. The bus was surely not in great shape - the rear suspension rattled, and the bus struggled to pick pace. Almost all the Volvos of KPN are in poor shape - they've had better days and are living a hospice life now. The service was nothing to speak about - I have no comments to make, since I hardly interacted with the crew. The bus did not waste time after it left Salem, and the driver tried his best to maintain pace. The running time turned out to a minute over 4 hours, including a 29 minute break - not really bad.

Amenities:
Blanket: No
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: No - I badly wanted one though
Entertainment: Available - not sure if a movie was played, but I think they did.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 2.5/5 [I am being lavish]
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 [Based on running time]

Overall: 3.5/5 [Great option if you are looking for an "AC bus"]

Will I take this service again? They are a good option if you travel to/from Salem from Bangalore - their frequency is unmatched.

Comments

rahulvijayev said…
Hello Binaieta, Any information from your sources regarding the running time of 3.33 Electronic City Expresses of TNSTC? Are they fulfilling the promise of 3.33 hrs from Salem to Bangalore or to Electronic City?

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