Shirdi, Shrirampur to Pune: The first Shivshahi experience

I hadn't booked any ticket to travel back from Shirdi to Pune. I had a train ticket from Pune to Bijapur (Vijayapura), where I to officiate for an examination. I had a plethora of options - but no direct options, as such. The last reservable Shivshahi bus from Shirdi to Pune was at 1200hrs, which would drop me in Pune quite early, and I had no way of spending time till my train to Vijayapura arrives (at 0100hrs). I had decided to leave a little late from Shirdi, and left all the decision make to the day of travel.

January 26, 2019:
I checked out of my hotel, had a light lunch and headed towards the bus station some time around 1300hrs. My first stop was the enquiry counter at the bus station. They updated that there were no more Shivshahi buses to Pune until late in the evening - they had non-AC buses, though. I badly wanted to try the Shivshahi, and hence headed to the reservation counter. I asked for a ticket from Shrirampur to Pune by Shivshahi - I picked up a bus that departs at 1600hrs from there. The guy at the counter accepted payment by card, and printed out my ticket soon later. I asked for a window side on the left side, and he accepted by request.

After getting my reservation ticket, my next job was to get a bus to Shrirampur. Shirampur was about an hour away, and there were frequent buses as well. In fact, one bus in the direction was ready to depart as I returned from the reservation counter - but this bus was full. I quickly checked the departures board, and found there was one leaving at 1400hrs. The bus station was quite crowded, and I was sure I'd need to do some shoving around to get a seat in the bus to Shrirampur.

A bus with the board "Shirdi Aurangabad" rushed in sometime around 1330hrs - I knew this one would go through Shrirampur. I did a 'seat reservation' by pushing my bag into the bus through one of the open windows. The door was already mobbed by passengers - I did managed to find some way to get into the bus. Since I had "reserved" a seat, I could sit. The bus was crowded in no time - the entire gangway was packed by now. The crew got into the bus much before the displayed time, and we got moving by 1343hrs. The aged looking TATA 1512 bus, homed at Newas depot, was a helluva performer - the bus surged forward at great speed. In fact, the bus stopped only at the bus stations on the way, and not at wayside bus stops. Our first stop was at Rahata (1354hrs). The road was in fairly good shape, and the driver was in the mood to speed! The next stop was a Babhaleshwar (1410hrs). The bus finally dropped me at Shrirampur bus station by 1437hrs - less than an hour since we departed from Shirdi.

I had a lot of time to spend - I went in search of a place to sit soon afterwards. I found a place near the controller's office itself, and spent the rest of the time browsing internet on my phone. There was a Shivshahi to Pune at 1500hrs - but that bus wasn't to be seen anywhere. I was a little upset at this - and a little concerned if they'd cancel my bus as well. There was no sign of my bus even as the clock ticked past 1530hrs. It soon turned 1545hrs, my bus still wasn't there. I headed to the enquiry office - they blurted out completely incoherent while point their fingers towards the entry gate of the bus station. I could gather that my bus would park near the entrance gate, but couldn't understand whether the bus would operate. I headed to the place where they said the bus would arrive, and continued my wait. I rushed back to the enquiry counter again at 1600hrs - my bus wasn't there yet! The guy at the counter blurted out something incoherent, and kept ignoring my question. While trying to figure out my next step, I saw a Shivshahi bus sneaking into the bus station (1605hrs). The bus headed straight into the depot, refueled and the crew changed.

The bus being brought out from the depot

The bus was brought to the departure bay by around 1615hrs, and boarding commenced by 1620hrs. The bus, MH-14-GU-2675, owned by Prasanna Purple, and leased to MSRTC, was built on an Ashok Leyland chassis by Veera Vahana (V7 model). This was my first experience in a Veera built AC Seater coach - I quite liked the interiors. The seats were clean and the interiors had a premium feel. The bus operates a conductor-less service - a conductor at the bus station issues tickets and 'dispatches' the bus. A conductor came into the bus a while before 1630hrs with a reservation chart - he checked tickets of the reserved passengers, then began issuing tickets to unreserved passengers. They managed to get about 12 passengers by the time we got moving - at 1637hrs, about 37 minutes behind schedule.
MH-14-BT-0751, this was the bus that brought me to Shrirampur

The AC was at full force, and the driver seemed a little slow to begin with. The two sleepless nights I had before was having a toll on me - I dozed off soon after we got moving. I had a nice long nap, and woke up only as the bus stopped at a bus station (1723hrs). I assumed this was Ahmednagar, but the map showed I was only at Rahuri! We got moving by 1730hrs - about an hour and 5 minutes behind schedule. I dozed off again, only to wake up when the bus stopped at Tarakpur (Ahmednagar) bus station - 1825hrs. Soon after the bus stopped, vendors selling various items rushed into the bus. I was quite hungry by now, and I picked up a serving of Vada Pav. The bus got moving by 1830hrs - about an hour and 25 minutes behind schedule now. The bus pulled into Malewada (Swastik) bus station by 1844hrs, and began a long wait for passengers. The bus started off again by 1855hrs - we were over an hour and 35 minutes behind schedule now!
MH-14-GU-2675, when it had just arrived in from Pune

I dozed off again, and woke up just as the bus pulled into a wayside motel for a break (1954hrs) - I was still sleepy, and wanted to spend sometime walking around. I picked up some snack from here, and kept walking around. This was a place frequented by non-ac buses of MSRTC, and was quite busy as well. We started off at 2022hrs. I noticed that the bus was running quite slow - even normal non-ac buses were overtaking us at a great pace. I checked with my GPS and realised that we didn't go over 65kmph! I dozed off again - this time quite deeply. I woke up just as the driver called out the arrival at the last stop - we were parked inside Shivajinagar MSRTC bus station now (2221hrs) - we were about 2 hours and 21 minutes late! The bus took about 5h44m for a journey that was scheduled to be completed in 4 hours!

Remarks: The bus, MH-14-GU-2675, owned by Prasanna Purple, leased to MSRTC and operated out of Shrirampur depot was in kept in great shape. The interiors were very fresh, and in great shape. The driver was well behaved - he was quite friendly as well. The bus seemed to be locked at 65kmph, and that delayed the journey quite badly. The Shivshahi service is a low-cost, no-frills AC Seater service - these buses take more stops are compared to their premium Shivneri service, and hence takes longer. I wouldn't hesitate trying Shivshahi again!

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

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5 (Overall, good driving)
Crew behaviour: 5/5 (Overall - good behaviour)
Punctuality: 2/5

Overall: 3.75/5

Pros: Value for money, AC seater
Cons: This bus was delayed

Will I take this service again? I wouldn't hesitate trying them if I'd ever travel on this route again

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