Coimbatore to Bangalore: TN-SETC AC Seater cum Sleeper

It all began here - that message from a good friend, which read "AC Seaters came online". Both of us knew what that meant. We were talking of the new AC Seater services of TN-SETC. I had informed him that I'd love to try them, and he had employed his sources to find when they'd be listed for online reservation. I headed to the SETC website soon after the message came, and found, both, the new AC Seater and the AC Seater+Sleeper coach listed online. I booked a seat on the AC Seater+Sleeper coach - for two reasons - this bus departed at 2230 (the AC seater departs earlier, at 2100), and I wanted to try their Seater+Sleeper quite badly.

July 14, 2019:
Surprising TW with a visit was successfully accomplished. However, it was gloomy as it turned evening, and it was time to leave. We left for Palakkad by car at around 1900hrs (a distance of about 32 kilometres). We were running a little late, and the road wasn't in great shape that we could speed up. I managed to get a TNSTC bus to Coimbatore right after getting to Palakkad bus station - the driver was slow right from the beginning. I was hoping he picked some pace after getting to the highway - but he mostly crawled for most of the distance. He got to Ukkadam by around 2131hrs - an hour and 23 minutes after we started from Palakkad! There was no traffic on the road - but he'd just not pick pace. I rushed to Gandhipuram after getting to Ukkadam - I made the mistake of getting in to a private bus, who exemplified crawling, again!

I got to Gandhipuram at around 2200hrs - I ran to a restaurant nearby to have my dinner and returned to the Gandhipuram SETC bus station. My bus to Bengaluru was already parked there - and people were mobbing all around. I stood a little away for some time waiting for the crowd outside to reduce. There were a lot of people standing on the gangway - the conductor didn't seem to be around, and I waited outside the bus. The driver was seated, but he wasn't able to help people with getting to their seats. I got into the bus as the departure time neared, and found people inside the bus were confused and there was some problem. I found what it was soon later - the seat numbers were all jumbled up!

I had reserved seat #7, which had to be in the third row, and should be a single seat on the left side of the bus - but after hunting for my seat, I found it located in the middle at the last row of the bus! When other people in the bus complained, the officials at the bus station asked them to sit wherever the seat numbers were marked! The conductor was harried - people mobbed him for an explanation. Soon later, another conductor joined him, and after some  discussion, they decided to seat passengers according to the seat map on the reservation website. This was a herculean task, and a few people including me joined the conductor in re-seating passengers.
The bus: CBE C721

It took a lot of time for the conductor to re-seat all the passengers. Even during all this effort, the conductor patiently answered all phone calls, and responded very politely to all the callers. We finally started off from Gandhipuram at 2309 hours - 39 minutes behind schedule. The driver was quick - he geared the bus correctly, and maintained pace. We got to Hopes College bus stop by 2319hrs - boarding was completed quickly, but the conductor had to seat them correctly. We got moving from there by 2325hrs. For some reason, I wasn't able to find a comfortable seating posture - the hand rests seemed to be placed too low. Blankets for the sleeper passengers were distributed - they weren't available for people who traveled in the seat, though.

The driver was quick once we got to the highway. The driving was quite unlike the normal SETC style - he picked pace quickly and maintained speed. The bus entered Avinashi town to pick passengers (0006hrs) and continued. I slept after Avinashi - not a continuous sleep, but still better that what I had expected. I had carried a shawl with me, and that kept me comfortable. The AC was set at comfortable temperatures as well. I slept quite well, and woke up just at the bus stopped at Narayana Hrudayalaya to drop a passenger (0540hrs). We reached Electronic city by 0548hrs - the driver took the elevated tollway, and rushed towards Silkboard. Interestingly (or shockingly), the driver turned off the AC soon after we got to the elevated highway. We encountered terrible traffic here, and took some time to reach the flyover (0605hrs).
The bus heading to the parking after reaching Shantinagar

Things got a little better after Silkboard - we got to Madiwala by 0619hrs (some traffic around the temple). The conductor was busy collecting back blankets that were left on the berths (he had asked most other passengers to hand them back before they alighted). We got to Shantinagar bus station by 0630hrs - 30 minutes behind schedule.

Remarks: The bus, TN-01-AN-2418 (C721) based at Coimbatore depot was fairly new, and was kept clean inside out. The crew deserve special appreciation - the misplaced seat numbers were handled perfectly and the crew made sure all passengers were seated wherever they had originally booked. The driving style was really good - they did not stop or take a break in between, and made sure the delay in arrival was minimized. The bus took about 07 hours and 21 minutes after we started from Coimbatore. We started with a delay of 39 minutes, but reached the destination with a delay of only 30 minutes. We could've arrived a little earlier if not for the traffic block near Silk Board and at Madiwala. Excellent service (considering their limitations). I hope the seat number issue is solved sooner.

Amenities:
Blanket: No (Available only for passengers booking a berth)
Water: Available on sale
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, worked.
Entertainment: Not available.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5 (The bus was quite new)
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4.75/5 (Delayed - but not a major delay)

Overall: 4.95/5

Pros: Great Crew, comfortable bus, fairly punctual
Cons: Blankets not available for seater passengers, seat number confusion 


Will I take this service again?
I'd surely!

Comments

Sunup said…
I suppose the service you took was the first/inaugural trip, right? Otherwise the seat confusion would not arise.
Binai K Sankar said…
It was not the first trip. But the first trip with full reservation.
C.A.Raghu Ram said…
Kudos to crew for defusing seat no situation

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