Trivandrum to Bengaluru: on Kerala Lines Volvo B11R

My travel plans for returning  from Trivandrum was cut clear right at the beginning. Selecting the leading operator on the route was a no-brainer. With high ratings on the leading bus booking website, and the best word-of-mouth reviews, Kerala Lines Volvo B11R was my first choice. A few days before my trip, rather before I booked my ticket, they added another bus on the route, with a later departure. I decided to stick to my original plan of traveling by the 2000hrs Volvo B11R operated by Kerala Lines.

May 02, 2019:
It was a busy day - attending the marriage, followed by the sumptuous lunch and then some awesome time with friends spotting buses, followed by some shopping. I got a bit late since I spent quite a lot of time talking with my good friend Jayasankar, at his place. I had to hurry with getting ready, and then rushed to Thampanoor on an autorickshaw. I badly wanted to eat at the Indian Coffee House - but I was running a little late, and decided to stick to Ariyas near Aristo Junction. I hurried through my dinner, and the rushed to the pick-up point outside Music College. The next some time was spent talking to Easwer (a fellow bus enthusiast). I had received the tracking information from Kerala Lines, and from the link it looked liked the bus was stuck in traffic somewhere. I received further updates about the progress of the bus by message. However, the bus hadn't reached the pick-up point even as the clock ticked past 2010hrs - the tracking link showed that the bus was quite close though.

The bus, KA-01-AH-8226, arrived at the pick-up point at 2020hrs - about 20 minutes behind schedule. Boarding commenced without any delay - the crew handled boarding very efficiently. We got moving by 2025hrs itself. The bus was well kept - the interiors were in good shape and was silent. We got to Karamana by 2034hrs, picked passengers and moved quickly. Water bottles were distributed soon after Karamana. As luck would have it, we were trailing behind traffic - a slow moving ordinary service of KSRTC taking the lead! Overtakes were out of question - but we did move at a good pace. We picked passengers from Balamapuram (2104hrs) and continued moving. The next stop was at Neyyattinkara (2114hrs), and then Kaliyakkavilai (2140hrs). We picked good pace after we entered Tamil Nadu. The new bridges in Tamil Nadu helped quite a bit. We had another pick-up at Chirayankuzhi (2156hrs). The roads had almost emptied now, and we made swift progress towards Nagercoil.
The bus: KA-01-AH-8226, clicked at Trivandrum

We reached Nagercoil Vadassery omni bus station at 2231hrs - 2 hours and 6 minutes since we departed from Trivandrum. The crew quickly announced that the passengers could use the restrooms, and this would be last break - very good use of the time, I must say. The bus station had fairly clean restrooms as well. Quite a lot of passengers used the time to have some light refreshments as well. We finally got moving at 2244hrs - about 30 minutes behind schedule now. Lights inside the coach were all turned off, and most passengers set off to sleep! The bus kept making frequent stops - to pick-up food for the crew. There was a bit of a traffic snarl at Aralvaymozhi (about 4 minutes lost, left at 2309hrs). I slept soon after the bus entered the 4 lane highway. The driver had picked up pace and exhibited stable driving once we were on the 4 lane highway.

I was woken up as the lights were turned on, and someone had banged on my seat - we were at Tirunelveli (0003hrs), and the passenger for the seat behind me had boarded. It took some time to complete boarding - we got moving by 0007hrs. The passengers on the seat behind me wanted more time to settle - I only remember pushing back my seat after she gave a go ahead - I dozed off again in no time. I had a nice long sleep, and woke up just as we were nearing Hosur. We didn't have any drops there, and just passed by Hosur bus station at 0656hrs. We were running a little behind schedule. Attibele toll was a mess, as usual - we passed by 0705hrs. We got to Electronic City toll gate by 0725hrs, quickly dropped passengers and rushed towards Madiwala. We got to Silk Board by 0735hrs, and finally to Madiwala by 0739hrs - 39 minutes behind schedule. Dodging auto guys was the task I had first, and the second task I had was to get a bus to head home.

Remarks: The bus, KA-01-AH-8226, had about 3 Lakh kilometres on the odo. It was really well maintained - I couldn't pick-up any squeaks (except the rattles from the bags on the overhead bin). The ride seemed stiffer compared to the Scania on my inbound. The overhead bins were short - loading my bag on to it was a task. The crew were great - the attendant had checked the previous night if anybody wanted to alight at Salem or Hosur. A movie was played soon after we left Trivandrum, and was switched off as we reached Nagercoil. Lights were switched off completely after Nagercoil (except during the pick-up at Tirunelveli). I liked the driving style - he was stable on the road, no unnecessary brakes or rash cuts. He did honk quite a bit after day break - but he hadn't used the horn at all during the night. With a ride time of 11h14m, this was a perfect service for a Trivandrum-Bengaluru passengers! Way to go!

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, Did not use.
Entertainment: Available, 1 movie played

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5 (Overall, good driving)
Crew behaviour: 5/5 (Overall - good behaviour)
Punctuality: 4.9/5

Overall: 4.95/5

Pros: Value for money, excellent service
Cons: Perhaps the shallow overhead bin - not an issue with the operator, though

Will I take this service again? Will be my choice when I travel in the route again!

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