Bangalore to Palakkad: KSRTC Airavat Club Class

This trip was not supposed to be by road - I had a train ticket - a precious train ticket, that I had booked a good three months in advance. Like always, advance planning never works for me, and this time was no different. I had to travel a day earlier, and ended up having to cancel my train ticket and take a bus instead. I decided to take an early evening bus so that I could reach Palakkad late in the night, around mid-night, so that I could sleep well before I head out to do my work. I had to choose between the two KSRTCs - I opted for Karnataka RTC - which ensures I get a discount for my return ticket as well! I picked the Bangalore-Trivandrum Airavat Club Class service.

July 18, 2019:
I left a little earlier than usual from office, and took a metro towards Lalbagh station. Getting an auto from Lalbagh station to Shantinagar turned out to be the toughest task. I lost quite some time searching for an auto - but managed to get to Shantinagar well on time. The bus was brought to the bus station by around 1540hrs - thirty minutes before departure. I left my bag inside the bus soon after boarding commenced and then remained outside the bus. There weren't many passengers in the bus - it was a Thursday evening anyway. The bus moved ahead from its platform exactly at 1610hrs - kinda surprising me about the punctuality. But the surprise was shortlived. The bus was stopped outside the bus station building again - to load parcels! We got moving after this only at 1617hrs!
The bus: KA-57-F-1725

As the bus began crawling out, the conductor was calling up passengers who were to board to Hosur, and requesting them to come to the beginning of the flyover instead of the stop outside the bus station, which was the scheduled pick-up point. He was updating them that the bus would arrive by 1800~1815hrs (the scheduled pick-up time was 1710hrs). I was well prepared for a delayed arrival at Palakkad, and had arranged my pick-up accordingly. A movie was played soon after the bus had started. The bus crawled through Wilson Garden, Lakkasandra and Dairy Circle - finally getting to St. Johns hospital by 1656hrs - we picked passengers and got moving in a minute. Traffic was not terrible at Madiwala market, but on the higher side. The bus went below the elevated highway, and slowly crawled through Bommanahalli and Singasandra. We got to Electronic City (BMTC Depot) by 1738hrs - and departed a minute later.

We passed Attibele toll by 1757hrs. The bus stopped at the beginning of Hosur flyover to pick reserved passengers and started from here by 1812hrs. The driver pulled over at the end of the flyover (1814hrs) and began loading parcels - boxes of flower was loaded into the baggage hold. Loading took quite some time - and we got moving only by 1829hrs. The driver stepped on the pedal after luggage loading - the bus maintained really good pace as we rushed towards Salem. We pulled over in to Hotel Saravana Bhavan Classic at Kurubarappalli, near Krishnagiri (1900hrs) for a tea break. The conductor kept announcing that we'd be having a dinner break later, and this is only a tea break. I was quite hungry since I had taken a very early lunch. I had some light snack and washed it down with a coffee - the crew were back in the bus as I was paying the bill! Now, that was quick! We started off at 1918hrs - that was a quick 18 minute break!

The bus slowed down a little after the break - but maintained speeds in the range of 80kmph. There was quite a bit of traffic - mainly trucks and overtakes were difficult. KSRTC has deactivated all their Fastags, and this meant we lost a lot of time at each toll gate. We passed Salem bypass by 2127hrs and continued towards Coimbatore. The guy was fairly quick. The bus pulled over for another break - at Hotel Saravana Bhavan, before Vaigundam toll gate for dinner break (2157hrs). The restaurant was really busy at the time. It was a little difficult to find a table - but I did manage. I wasn't very hungry now, and took another light snack and returned outside. The bus started off from here at 2219hrs. I was quite tired and slept off soon later. I am not sure if the bus went into Coimbatore town. I woke up just as the bus was nearing Palakkad bus station. I rushed off my seat, grabbed my bag and rushed to the cabin. The bus had already stopped outside the bus station to drop a passenger and the driver had started again. He was flummoxed seeing me about to get off - he grabbed the reservation chart again and checked how many passengers were booked to Palakkad. I got off the bus at 0112hrs ( about an hour and 13 minutes behind schedule)

Remarks: The bus, KA-57-F-1725, had about 6.47 Lakh kilometres on the odo. The bus was fairly well kept - I generally find Scanias getting tired as it gets older. The Volvo appear in better shape than the Scanias. The ride quality was good. The crew were good - Like all KSRTC crew member, soft-spoken, polite and quite friendly. Time management is really poor. They could easily save time by cutting down on one break - there was just 2 hours between the tea break and the dinner break - instead of stopping twice, they could perhaps stop at a restaurant in Dharmapuri for an early dinner break. The run time was 8 hours and 55 minutes - including two breaks consuming 40 minutes in all. Discounting the breaks, the run time of 8 hours and 15 minutes is okayish for a "day" service. A good one, worth considering again. 
Amenities:Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, worked.
Entertainment: Available, movie played.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 4.5/5 (The second driver was a little slow)
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 3/5 (Delayed by an hour, poor time management)

Overall:
4/5

Pros: Great Crew, comfortable bus
Cons: Too many breaks, poor time management

Will I take this service again?
Will keep this as a back-up for sure.

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