On Hebron to Chennai!

Sometime in the beginning of March: A requirement to travel to Chennai towards the end of the month popped up. My travel was on weekdays - outbound on a Tuesday and return on a Wednesday. I found plenty of availability in buses, and didn't really feel the need for an advance reservation. Since I had to be in Chennai by noon, I looked only at early morning departures from Bengaluru. I briefly romanced the idea of taking the Shatabdi Express train, but it doesn't operate on Tuesdays. Back to buses, I was confused between Hebron and Evacay (the newest entrant in scene). The confusion was short-lasting, since Evacay had stopped their early morning departure by then, and it was only Hebron. Hebron is the leader in the Bangalore-Chennai route, and operates 4 Scania Metrolink HD 14.5m coaches, 2 Volvo B9Rs and 2 Volvo 9100s (Asia Bus), making a total of 14 trips per day, each way.  I wanted to try their new Volvo B9R, and booked a ticket on their first service of the day, which generally uses the Volvo B9R. Quite unusually, redBus offer rates cheaper than the official website, and I reserved using redBus.

March 21, 2017:
I struggled to wake up from my bed as the alarm rang at 0300hrs. I had hardly slept the previous 2 nights. After quite a struggle, I got off the bed and hurriedly got ready. The usual struggle to hire a cab began after that. My usual experiences with Uber repeated - the driver accepts the booking, but neither answers calls nor comes. I finally got a cab on the Ola app - it was almost 0425hrs by then. My pick-up point was about 8 kms from home. I received a call from the crew a few minutes before I reached the pick-up point. My heart sank as we neared Madiwala underpass - I could see only two Scanias there and there were no Volvos!

I went to the Hebron office at Madiwala, but there was nobody at the office. Later, I headed to the sole Hebron bus parked there, and checked with the crew if that would be the 0500hrs bus to Chennai - they confirmed. I felt disappointed, and causally asked the crew about the substitution. They didn't reply, just gave a smile. The bus wasn't very full - probably about 20 passengers in all. A guy from the office did a final check and signed off the bus. We started from Madiwala at 0503hrs - three minutes behind schedule. There was a little bit of traffic at Madiwala Market - understandable sincei t was early morning on a working day. We made a brief halt at Silk Board, and carried on (0513hrs).

The bus did not take the elevated tollway, and took the road below through Bommanahalli. There was hardly any traffic, and we made it to Electronic City at 0523hrs. Once past Electronic city, the driver picked pace and hurried towards Attibele. I was quite tired, and pushed back my seat and embarked on a long sleep. Blankets were provided, and it was a good addition. I had a nice nap, and woke up just as the bus pulled in for a pick-up at Hosur. We started from there at 0545hrs. I continued my sleep after Hosur. Driving was great - in fact, I could sleep very well. I vaguely remember seeing Krishnagiri toll.

I woke up only when the bus stopped on the road side, and slowly reversed into a parking. That was our breakfast break - at Hotel Anandhas on Gudiyattam bypass. The time was 0739hrs. The crew called out a 20 minute break and walked out. The engine was left running. I was a little hungry, and opted to have my breakfast. Anandhas was quite a good option - I had a nice Dosa and an average Vada, washing it down with coffee. The crew demonstrated great time management - they finished their food quickly, and were back in the bus in no time. We started off at 0758hrs - a minute earlier than expected!
The bus at the breakfast stop

I did not want to continue sleeping - rather, couldn't continue since the sun was out on my side, and was right on my face. The curtain's didn't help matters. I tuned on to a movie on my phone instead. A little later, we stopped at Vellore, outside Hebron's office and the driver walked off to the office. The stop took a while, and we continued the journey only at 0817hrs. I was quite engrossed in the movie that I didn't notice where we had reached. The bus stopped outside Hyundai to drop a passenger (0951hrs). Our next drop was at Poonamalle bypass (1006hrs). I realised that we were quite early, and I'd be in for some surprise. We passed Maduravoyal at 1023hrs, and later stopped at Rohini Theatre by 1029hrs. The bus took a right past Rohini Theatre, entered the Koyambedu market road to head towards Koyambedu bus station. The bus reached its destination - the fuel station outside Koyambedu Mofussil terminus - at 1033hrs. A whole 27 minutes before schedule!

Summary: The bus for my trip was KA-01-AE-2127 - from the first lot of Scanias delivered to Hebron. The bus had clocked a little over 5.47 lakh kilometres. The bus had a Malaysia built body - the quality really showed. There were no rattles, except those from the bags on the overhead rack. I was quite surprised by the driving - very disciplined and sane. He picked pace slowly, but maintained speeds for long durations, thereby ensuring higher average speeds. The crew had great time management - and did not waste time anywhere. The bus was in fairly good shape as well - a sharp deviation from other Hebron buses on the route. Overall a great journey.

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, Worked.
Entertainment: Available, Not used.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5 (Overall - good behaviour)
Punctuality: 5/5 (Arrived well before time)

Overall: 5/5

Pros: Punctual, high frequency
Cons: Fares higher compared to other, complaints of rash driving

Will I take this service again? Absolutely. Would be my choice on the route.

Comments

Arun said…
Hi Binai,

Just a correction. The place where bus stopped for break is Pallikonda. Gudiyatham is fairly away from the highway and has no bypass. Hebron always takes the road below flyover ex bangalore. Uses BETL only in their inward journeys. Off late, only Hebron, Parveen and recently Asian express operate their early morning trips consistently.
Binai K Sankar said…
Thanks for that bit of info Arun.

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