Bengaluru to Thrissur: KSRTC Garuda King Class Volvo B9R - a repeat!

Call it coincidence, call it a repeat - I was all set to head home for a vacation, and I booked on the Bangalore-Ernakulam Volvo service of Kerala RTC once again! And like the last time, it was convenience that weighed over anything else. I had to delay my booking until the last minute, since I was really not sure if I'd be able to travel. My journey was confirmed only by around 1700hrs - I logged on to the website to see most forward half seats occupied. I quickly selected one in the rear half - #29 it was.

October 09, 2017:
Since it was vacation time, my colleague was also traveling to the bus station. So we decided to share a cab - the Ola cab came in about 5 minutes from booking - the guy got us to the satellite bus station in Peenya by about 1755hrs. While I was in the cab, I received a call from the bus conductor to confirm if I was boarding from Peenya itself - this was important since Peenya happens to be the default boarding point, and a lot of passengers forget to change the boarding point. As I confirmed, he replied back that we'd be departing a little past 1815 (the scheduled time), and I need not hurry.

The bus, RS782, was already on the platform. I left my bigger bag in the luggage bay, and my smaller bag inside the bus, and returned out. The air-conditioner wasn't on yet, and it was quite stuffy inside the bus. It was airy and quite cool outside. I just confirmed with the driver if we would be going via Mathikere - he, and I, was quite excited as he replied negative. He added that we'd depart only by 1830, after the super deluxe to Thrissur departs. Coincidentally, a known guy was at the wheels of the Thrissur bus - we spent some time talking. I and my colleague got into the bus as the driver signalled that we'd be starting - we got moving at 1830hrs, right behind the Thrissur bus.
The bus - RS782. Picture from archives.

The AC was in full force, and it was quite cold inside the bus. There were not more than 6 passengers on board - 5 of us carrying on, and 1 (my colleague) getting off at Satellite bus station. Traffic was on the higher side - it was a Monday evening, peak traffic time in Bengaluru! We moved, rather inched, slowly - the road freed up a little past Laggere, but the driver decided to go slow. We still got to Satellite bus station (Mysore road) by 1922hrs - 38 minutes to go for departure. I and my colleague got off the bus - and we headed straight to the restaurant for dinner. I was dead hungry, and badly wanted some food. We returned from the restaurant by 1955hrs - after bidding adieu, I got into my bus. We started off from there at 2008hrs - eight minutes late, as the crew tried soliciting some walk-in passengers. We had just 15 reservations, and that was too less! They did manage to get some extra pax.

We joined the traffic soon later, and crawled our way towards Shantinagar. Although traffic was on the higher side, it didn't appear to be stationary - we managed to get to Shantinagar by 2032hrs - it took us some time to get a platform, and then boarding took even more time. We got moving by 2037hrs. Traffic got worse as we got on to Hosur Road (Marigowda road to be technically correct). We crawled for most of the part - but got to St John's by 2054hrs - it was a stop and go pick-up, and we got moving immediately. The worst part of traffic started now. Traffic came to a complete standstill as we turned towards Madiwala market. It took a lot of time there, and it was well past 2115hrs as we passed Madiwala police station - about 500metres from the point where we entered the gridlock!

The driver did not take the elevated highway - I though we had a pick-up at Bommanahalli, but that was not the case. We actually went through the service road, and passed Bommanahalli by 2131hrs. I expected a pick-up at Electronic city, but that wasn't the case either - we passed Electronic city at 2147hrs. I got set to sleep now, and set my seat in a comfortable position to sleep. Just like my last trip, I did not have co-passenger - so I had two seats all for myself. However, unlike the last time, I wasn't able to sleep. I remained awake till we passed Attibele toll (2205hrs). I slept off sometime later, and woke up just as the bus parked at the hotel, and the lights came on (2243hrs) - I had taken a fairly heavy dinner, and just wanted to stretch a bit. I roamed around the place like a zombie for a while and then remained near my bus for the rest of the time. Being an off-peak day, all the buses that turned up were more or less empty.

We started off from the restaurant (Hotel Saravana Bhavan Classic, Kurubarappally) at 2314hrs. I remained awake for some more time - till we passed Krishnagiri toll. I had a nice sleep after that - did wake up a few times, especially as the bus hit a few potholes. I vaguely remember seeing Ukkadam (in Coimbatore town) - and my Maps Timeline confirmed that we did not take the bypass, but did enter Coimbatore city, and even went to Gandhipuram bus station! I also vaguely remember a stop at Palakkad bus station - but I did not really check the time. I slept till we were near Mannuthy - I woke up as the bus turned off the highway at Mannuthy (the roads are terrible here - and it would wake anyone). The driver was quite fast even inside the town limits - but then there's no one on the road! I moved to the cabin as we passed East Fort - I had to alight at Sakthan Nagar. I was dropped outside Sakthan Nagar Municipal Bus Station at 0606hrs - close to two hours behind "scheduled" time (the scheduled time is more of fallacy than reality).

Ending remarks: The bus, RS782, KL-15-A-280, homed at Ernakulam depot, had clocked a little over 7.02 Lakh kms. The bus appeared a little tired from the exteriors - maybe the paint did not have the sheen! The bus was maintained in perfect shape - absolutely no "added" sounds or irritating vibration. The seats were in great shape, and so were the interiors (overall) - except the damaged floor mat. Blankets were placed on the seat itself, while water bottles were kept near the driver, and it was "Self-service". The charging points worked, and thankfully, they did not play a movie. I really liked the way the bus was maintained - they still had white headrest covers - maintaining them white is, by no means, a joke! Most other depots had already switched to dark coloured head rest covers, and dark curtains - Ernakulam still had the stock curtains and stock headrest covers. I must appreciate Ernakulam for maintaining these buses so well. 

Coming to the timings - KSRTC has set some really un-achievable timings - arriving into Thrissur at 0420 is impossible unless this is the only vehicle on road. I've travelled by this service five times earlier, this being my sixth trip - and never have I reached at the "scheduled" time - the earliest being 0518, and the latest being 0650 - the average arrival is between 0540 and 0600hrs. In this trip, we had departed Madiwala (the reference point for all private operators) at 2054, and got to Thrissur only at 0606 - thats a little over 9 hours. We also had a 31 minute break en route. The running time is acceptable, in fact, great for a bus speed locked at 80kmph! The crew were great - we soft spoken, and well mannered. In fact, this was my first trip after KSRTC changed the staffing to two driver-cum-conductors, instead of the earlier system of having one guy to drive and another to "conduct". Overall another good trip. I only wish they changed the bus - not because the bus is bad, but the fake leather seat covers are a pain! 

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

Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4/5 (Terribly delayed going by schedule, but perfectly acceptable running time)

Overall: 4.75/5

Pros: Government bus, Reliable service
Cons: Its a little pricey!

Will I take this service again? Absolutely!


Sunup said…
Nice of them to give a ride to your colleague till Satellite BS.
Binai K Sankar said…
Its permitted by KSRTC actually. You can use any of the KSRTC buses from Peenya/Koramangala/Shantinagar/Kalasipalya to reach Mysore road Satellite BS, provide you have a confirmed onward reservation from there. You don't have to pay for ticket.
rahulvijayev said…
Any specific reasons on why the same service goes on the BETL one day and doesnt on another day? Do they pay for each trip of do they have RFID tag?
Binai K Sankar said…
They are technically supposed to go below - since they have stops below. Some drivers prefer hurrying through the flyover, while some go below and see if they could get some pax. They pay per trip - Kerala doesn't use FasTags. Karnataka has installed FasTags in most of their buses.
Jerish Sunny said…
Even KSRTC is good in timings and fare, I feel the rexin seats are making journey uncomfortable. It will be okay in case no passenger in your adjacent seat, otherwise it is really uncomfortable for me.
C.A.Raghu Ram said…
Rexin seats are ok for short rides... Longer ones seem to trap body heat....

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