Ernakulam to Bengaluru: KSRTC Garuda King Class Volvo B9R

Travelling without a return ticket is getting a very bad regular misadventure for me. This trip was no different. I had a plethora of options to choose from for my return trip - but like my outbound, convenience took precedence. Kerala State RTC's Volvo B9R aka Garuda King Class gave a very big convenience that it would drop me near my home - rather just 6 kms away from home, at Peenya Satellite bus station. I booked my ticket about a week before travel - and I was quite shocked that they were charging end-to-end fares for the bus, and almost half the bus was already sold out. I picked up a seat in the rear half of the bus, and, quite interestingly, booked an end-to-end ticket. I planned to change my boarding point to Thrissur, if needed on the day of my journey.

October 21, 2017:
Towards noon on my day of journey, I decided to board the bus at Ernakulam itself. Leaving home after a long stay is surely a heart-wrenching moment. I hate waiting for the bus at Thrissur - the bus station is a crowded dinghy place that bursts at its seems. I did not want to jostle for space at the bus station amid the heat and humidity. Traveling to Thrissur is also a nightmare - I had to leave very early if I wanted to take a KSRTC bus, or make do with the congested and rashly driven private buses - which I did not want to do.

I left home around 1625 hours, with my dad accompanying me till the nearest bus stop. I got a bus without much wait as well. I got to Kodungallur in about 10 minutes. I got a bus to Ernakulam Jetty from there around 1645hrs - I was happy that it was a bus from my home depot as well. The journey to Ernakulam took a little more than 100 minutes - all thanks to the traffic and the time lost to refueling at North Paravur depot. I reached Ernakulam Jetty around 1830hrs. I had received a message from KSRTC with details of my bus to Bengaluru by the time. I did not waste anytime at Jetty bus station - and just hurried into an autorickshaw to travel to the KSRTC bus station. The auto dropped me there around 1845hrs.

I was expecting the bus (my bus to Bengaluru - RS784) to be parked near the entrance - that wasn't, however, the case. The bus was parked inside the bus station, deep inside near the fuel station. The bus was parked at the exit gate of the depot itself - the baggage hold was left open, and there was nobody to monitor the hold. Two holds were already full with parcel. I left one of my two bags in the hold, and carried the second one inside the bus. The crew - both the driver and the conductor - were standing inside the bus. The conductor quickly checked my ticket and the ID proof and let me head to my seat. The driver suggested I could leave the bag in the hold - but I had to refuse. I left my bags at the seat and returned outside the bus.
The bus - RS784. Pic from Archives. 

The AC was turned on as the clock ticked closer to 1900hrs - the scheduled departure time. The bus didn't move until 1915hrs - some passengers began mumbling. The crew came around and informed that they were waiting for a couple of passengers, who were held up in traffic blocks. He promised that we'd make it to Bangalore on time - and it would be unfair to leave those passengers behind on a peak day, since getting an alternative is close to impossible. I liked that attitude - he had that confidence that we could make up the time. We finally got moving at 1920hrs, and crawled till the exit, finally leaving the bus station at 1922hrs. The missing passenger finally got the bus at Kadavanthra - interestingly, the passenger got off a bus in the opposite direction (the driver of that bus signalled our driver) and got into the bus.

There was slow moving traffic for most part, and we managed to reach Vyttila hub only by 1943hrs. Quite a few passengers got in here - infact, most the "Ernakulam" passengers got in here. We got moving only at 1949hrs. We crawled through traffic and got to Palarivattam by 2004hrs, picked passengers and got moving at 2006hrs. Traffic got worse as we neared Edappally. We managed to crawl through traffic, and get to Aluva bypass by 2036hrs - picked up a passenger and got moving immediately. I pulled out my dinner parceled from home, and finished the food quickly. We passed Ankamaly by 2054hrs. We were running much behind schedule already, and the conductor's phone kept ringing without a break - he kept answering calls very politely. I was quite tired and badly wanted to sleep - I set my seat to a comfortable position, and dozed off.

I dozed for a while, and was shocked when I woke up - we were yet to reach Thrissur - the bus was just passing Amballur. The driver was quite fast on the road - he pushed the bus through the windy roads from Thalore towards Thrissur town. We finally got to the bus station (Thrissur KSRTC bus station) around 2208hrs - over an hour and 23 minutes behind schedule! Boarding took a long time - probably passengers were missing, tired of waiting for such a long time. The conductor was seen calling up passengers, and a few rounds of announcements were made on the PA system as well. We finally got moving at 2223hrs - an hour and 38 minutes behind schedule now! The bus station was crowded, as usual, and it took quite some time to get out of the bus station.

The driver maneuvered the beast through the narrow bylanes around the KSRTC bus station at Thrissur, heading towards the highway. The traffic on the highway was on the higher side - it slowed down as we neared Kuthiran. Although the roads at Kuthiran pass was recently relaid, it still is in tatters. We slowly passed the section, and made painful progress towards Palakkad. I dozed off for a while more. I woke up just as the bus pulled up for dinner at Hotel Malabari, at Mangalam Palam, Vadakkencherry - the time now was 2322hrs. Quite late for dinner, but there is no better choice! I had a juice and remained outside for some time. We were joined by the Kottarakkara-Bengaluru deluxe, and a few KSRTC Airavat Diamond Class buses. We finished our dinner break and got moving at 2354hrs.

I was dead tired by now, and caught up some sleep. I slept for sometime, waking up just as the lights turned on again and the crew called out for passengers getting off at Palakkad - at 0022hrs, over two hours and 22 minutes behind schedule! I am really sad for the passengers who waited that long at Palakkad for this bus. The remaining reserved passengers got in here - including my co-passenger. We left Palakkad bus station at 0029hrs. I dozed off soon after we started from Palakkad - I vaguely remember passing the toll gate near Walayar. The sleep wasn't continuous, and I woke up multiple times on the way. The (Driver-cum-)Conductor was at the wheels now, and his style of driving was quite irritating at times - he releases the clutch a little too fast, and the vehicles jerks ahead with each gear change.

We reached Hosur at 0605hrs - dropped a passenger near the bus station and continued. The driver was really fast - except the quick clutch release, his driving style was quite amazing. We stopped at Attibele (past the toll gate) to drop a passenger, at 0613hrs. We were behind schedule, but not too much. We got to Electronic city by 0627hrs - I expected the crew to take the elevated highway (which is usually the case) - but they chose to take the road below. We got to Silk Board by 0642hrs, and to Madiwala by 0647hrs. Almost half the bus emptied here and we got moving by 0650hrs. We reached Kempegowda bus station (Majestic) by 0709hrs - 39 minutes behind schedule now. We started from here by 0711hrs. We dropped passengers at Malleswaram (IISc), Yeswantpur, and at Goreguntepalya (0733hrs). The bus finally concluded its journey at Peenya, Basaveshwara Bus Station at 0741hrs - 41 minutes behind schedule.

Remarks: The bus, KL-15-A-282, RS784, homed at Ernakulam depot had clocked a little over 6.07lakh kms. The bus seemed a little tired as compared to my previous journey in the same bus, about a month ago. The rear suspension set up seemed to have taken a hit - a feeble rattle was heard whenever the bus went over a rough patch. Both the drivers were good - they really valued time, and maintained pace wherever possible. Although we started 22 minutes behind schedule, and finished 41 minuted behind schedule, I would give them full points for time keeping. They did not take any long breaks on the way, except the dinner break, which lasted 32 minutes - that was a little long, but they do get the benefit of doubt, since over 6 buses had stopped for dinner at that time. They managed to make up most of the delay, which was well over 2 hours at Palakkad, by the time they got to Bangalore - and they did that with a bus speed locked at 80kmph! They were soft spoken, and did assist passengers with baggage while alighting. The bus was clean, and appeared well kept - except the feeble rattle from the rear suspension, the bus was in great shape. The AC was left at full force - maybe a degree higher might have been great. Blankets were available at all seats before the journey began, and the conductor did come around and check if anybody was yet to get one. He got spare blankets for a few passengers as well. Water bottles weren't distributed - but was kept near the driver's seat. Overall a good service, value for money. 

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Broken point at my seat. Other seats had working points..
Entertainment: Available, part of a movie was played.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 4.5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 4.75/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4.75/5 (Delayed, but acceptable times)

Overall: 4.75/5

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

Will I take this service again? Absolutely, yes! 

Comments

Sunup said…
Since you saw the Kottarakkara Deluxe at the dinner halt, it means that even they were running behind schedule by more than 2 hours. It's scheduled time at Palakkad is 9:45PM I believe.

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