Bangalore to Trivandrum by Orange Travels Scania

I had been planning to go to Trivandrum since quite some time now. I had some personal and some official work there. I had made a lot of plans earlier, but none went ahead. I ended up cancelling every plan. The official work came as a blessing, since it made me plan the trip seriously. I first booked my return journey - since that was on a Monday evening, and the Monday happened to be holiday in Bangalore and had rush like how its on a Sunday. Trains and flights were not an option - it had to a bus. Bus fares seemed to compete with airlines on that day, and I had to quickly make a decision. More than that in the next post.

I was terribly confused on how to head to Trivandrum. I briefly romanced the idea of taking a sleeper bus - but all of them had only double berths. I romanced taking the state bus for sometime - then dumped the idea and booked on Orange Travels, by then Scania Metrolink HD coach - which was selling at Rs. 900! For the first time, I opted for the first row seat as well - the window on the first row left side. I had accidently used the first row seat in a Scania ride sometime back, and actually loved the seat - so this selection was obvious.

September 03, 2016:
I had a very long and busy day - started off quite early and was tiring as well. I reached home sometime past 1800hrs, and had a lot of work to finish at home, as well. I was getting delayed as time went by. I booked a cab with a 2000hrs pickup and hurried with my dinner. The cab did not turn up even at 2015hrs - calls to the driver weren't replied properly; and, at 2030hrs, the driver refuses to come. I hurried out of home and rushed to the nearest auto stand to get hold of an auto. I get one, and rush towards Madiwala. The roads were in bad shape, plus traffic was building up. I receive a call from the crew at 2050 saying they've reached the pick-up point. Since I was unlikely to reach the place before 2100hrs, which was the scheduled departure time, I request the crew to pick me from Madiwala petrol pump - to which, they agree.

I reach the petrol pump by around 2105hrs and called up the crew once again to confirm that I've reached - the bus hadn't started from Madiwala yet. The place with a bit crowded - lots of passengers waiting for their buses around. Majority of the Andhra/Telangana bound services have their Madiwala pick-up point here. My bus turned up at 2138hrs - KA-01-AF-5529 was working OTT-115 that day. The driver parked a little ahead of the petrol pump - I was not the only passenger joining the bus there. After my ticket was verified, the attendant took my bag and kept in the baggage hold, tagged it, and issued a counterfoil for the tag. We started off from Madiwala petrol pump at 2141hrs.
My bus, when we stopped at Nagercoil. The bus behind had left two hours before us. 
The bus was clean inside. Fresh blanket in a sealed plastic bag was kept on my seat. A 500ml bottle of water and a snack box was kept on the magazine rack near my seat as well. We crawled over Silk Board bridge, and stopped a little before Roopena Agrahara bus stop. We were waiting for the Pick-up van, which brings in passengers from Yeshwantpur, Anand Rao Circle, Hebbal, etc. The van came a little late. We started from there around 2155hrs. We took BETL from there and ended up in heavy traffic near the BETL Exit tollgate. We finally reached the Electronic City pick-up point, right after the toll gate, at 2229hrs, and started from there at 2231hrs. A malayalam movie was being played on the entertainment system - a recent hit. We had another pick-up at Bommasandra - the pick-up point was not clear, and the crew slowed down at every place they saw some passengers waiting. We finally picked up our passengers at 2236 and moved towards Hosur.

Traffic was on the higher side at Attibele toll - the driver stuck to the extreme left lane, which helped us move a little fast, though. We had another pick-up at Hosur - we stopped just before the Hosur flyover at 2304, picked up passengers and started off again at 2308hrs. We pulled into Saravana Bhavan near Krishnagiri for dinner, at 2339hrs. Hardly any passenger got off the bus for dinner - most of those who got off, just walked around, used the wash room and returned to the bus. We finished dinner and started at 0012hrs. I was very sleepy by now - I only remember passing Krishnagiri toll. I had a nice long sleep, that went on till about 0700hrs. We were still on a four-lane road. Going by the time, I assumed we would be somewhere near Kavalkinaru by now. My mobile internet was very slow to load the map, and I couldn't find where we were. The driver had changed sometime during the night. The younger guy who started from Bangalore had given way to a older Malayali guy now.

A little later, the passenger sitting on the seat next to me asked the driver to stop a little ahead. We stopped at Sankarnagar bus stop at 0719hrs - we were still to reach Tirunelveli! We had travelled a little over 490kms in the last 7 hours - not a great average. The crew were talking of some accident on the highway, but this could not be validated by the other bus drivers on the same route. We turned off the highway and entered a small two lane road - heading towards the town. We stopped at Vannarapettai at 0730 - a two minute halt where about 10 passengers got off. We made another stop outside the new bus station in Tirunelvei (0737hrs), before we reached back on the highway. Once back on the highway, the driver let the beast loose and we stabilised at around 98kmph. We passed Kavalkinaru at 0820hrs. Four lane highway gave way to a two-lane road now - with fairly heavy traffic. Although it was Sunday, the traffic on the road was on the higher side.

We pulled into Vadassery bus station in Nagercoil at 0846hrs. A lot of passengers got off here - there were 23 passengers travelling on to Trivandrum. The driver had requested passengers to use the washroom if needed during the halt. We started from there at 0853hrs. Traffic was already dense and the driver struggled to keep pace. We managed to reach Marthandam by 0933hrs and Kaliykkavilai by 0949hrs. We had to stop at Kurumkutty checkpost of the RTO for tax paper verification (0958hrs) - the stop here lasted 8 minutes. We started from there only at 1006hrs. While stopping for verification, a staffer at the checkpost was heard informing the driver that there is heavy traffic ahead at Balaramapuram. I had a mini-heart attack on hearing this.
The bus: KA-01-AF-5529, when we stopped at Kurumkutty check-post.
He was correct. The progress reduced to a crawl soon afterwards. We reached Neyyattinkara by 1022hrs. We crawled out of Neyyattinkara towards Balaramapuram. The 6 kilometre distance to Balaramapuram took about 30 minutes to cover! We reached Balaramapuram at 1052hrs. The next 5 kms to Pravachambalam took 27 minutes to cover, and we reached there at 1119hrs. We finally reached Aristo junction by around 1135hrs - a delay of 2 hours and 35 minutes! The last 68-odd kms took 2 hours and 42 minutes to cover. The end to end ride took 13 hours and 54 minutes - quite high given the fact that we were on a four laned highway for most of the journey.

Remarks: The bus, KA-01-AF-5529, had clocked a little over 85000 kms. The MID claimed a mileage of about 3.5kmpl for the journey. The bus was well maintained - the interiors were very clean. The crew were very well behaved as well - the driver used the PA system to announce stops. The attendant helped passengers with their baggage. The baggage counterfoil was verified before baggage was handed over. The snack box helped me overcome hunger pangs in the morning. I felt the dinner break was unwarranted - they could've replaced it with washroom break instead. Overall a good journey, but terribly delayed though.

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: Yes
Charging Point: Available, On throughout night
Entertainment: Available, movies played.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 2.5/5

Overall: 4/5

Pros: Driving, Cleanliness, Snack box
Cons: Timings, Unwanted breaks.

Will I take this service again? I am not a regular passenger on this route. Its a nice service. Recommended.

Comments

rahulvijayev said…
Nice report, Binaieta. Loved the new feature- "Pros & Cons"! :)

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