Bangalore to Palakkad: KSRTC Airavat Club Class

Onam is the biggest celebration for any Keralite! Its the only festival we all celebrate irrespective of religion or caste - the biggest celebration of the state. Originally a harvest festival, with religious underlining, Onam is truly a festival that brings all people together. Every Keralite tries reaching back to his home state during this time - atleast most of us try doing that. This Onam was very special, and both our families (my parents and TW's parents) were to celebrate this year together. Onam was a damp affair last year due to the state's biggest deluge in history.

I had missed the booking dates for taking a train - trains were sold out by the time I realised, and I had to keep my eyes open on bus bookings. Both the KSRTC's open their bookings 30 days before the journey date - I opened the website of Karnataka RTC on the date the reservation opened, and I found the entire bus was empty. I decided to wait till the return booking also open - booking both ways together means a discount as well. I did briefly consider taking the Kerala RTC option - but they were charging 'high-flexi' fares - charging the highest rates on the route. With all the uncertainties and inconsistencies with Kerala SRTC's premium operations, I decided the risk wasn't worth it. I booked my round trip on the day the reservations for the return journey opened - I managed to bag a round trip ticket for the cost of a one-way ticket by a private bus, or slightly more than a one-way ticket by Kerala RTC!

September 07, 2019:
Onam celebrations in office finished earlier than anticipated - nevertheless, the day was terribly tiring and I was in no mood to take the metro to Shantinagar, from where my bus would depart. I managed to find a cab on the Uber app - there was quite a bit of traffic on the way. I got to the bus station by 2130, nevertheless. I hadn't received any message about the bus, except the reminder message. I wandered around the bus station searching for my bus. There was a long line of special buses in another platform as well - I checked at both places to see if my bus was parked anywhere. I headed to a juice shop nearby for a light refreshment, and continued waiting for my bus. There was no sign of the bus even as the clock ticked past 2200hrs - a few other buses that depart around this time was also missing!

I headed to the controller's desk at the bus station to check the status - I found him surrounded by a lot of irate passengers asking for status of their buses. He kept repeating that the buses would come - I didn't want to add to his misery, and chose to wait nearby. Later buses kept streaming in and out of the bus station. As it got later, the controller disappeared from his counter (he was seen standing a little away). As buses disappeared from the platform, he had no option but to return to the counter - by now, more passengers mobbed him. This time, he called up the depot and asked for an update. He now assured people that the bus would come in soon.

As the clock ticked past 2315hrs, I got enough of it, and called up the KSRTC Control Room - the first call was not answered, but the second call (after about 10 minutes) was answered - the person at the other end of the phone took my details and retrieved my reservation details. He checked something (sound of keyboard clicks) and responded that the 'waybill for the service has been generated' and confirmed that the bus would arrive soon. He apologised for the delay before hanging up. A bus turned up a few minutes after this call - I got excited and hoped it was my bus - but it wasn't. It happened to be a bus to Ooty. My bus turned up finally at 2353hrs - the conductor ran to the counter to get the waybill signed, while the driver quickly got the boarding chart and commenced boarding. Boarding was complete very soon, and we managed to depart from Shantinagar at 0009hrs - with a delay of 2 hours and 4 minutes.
The bus after arriving at Palakkad

I managed to speak to the driver during boarding, and found that the scheduled bus had been turned out as special bus earlier in the day and they had to wait for buses that had departed as specials the previous night to return. The bus that we were travelling on had arrived back from Kerala just about half an hour earlier - the turned it around after cleaning and refueling. The crew showed sense of urgency as they picked pace through the mostly deserted roads of Bengaluru. We had another bus for company - the 2200BNGEKM Airavat Club Class. Both the buses kept pace with each other and hurried towards the next pick up point. The next point was Dairy Circle - a lot of passengers were waiting here - a few of them joined this bus, and we continued (0016hrs).

The next stop was at St. John's hospital - 0019hrs.  Boarding was quick - we got moving by 0020hrs. Roads were deserted - there were no blocks anywhere on the route. We got to Electronic City by 0043hrs - picked passengers and got moving by 0044hrs. Traffic had completely thinned out by now, and the driver meant business now. Boarding was completed - all seats occupied. It was time to sleep - I was terribly tired from the long day I had, and slept in no-time. I believe the bus didn't stop for a break anywhere. I vaguely remember the bus stopping at Coimbatore bypass to drop passengers - this bus usually has a drop inside the city, but on that day they dropped passengers on the bypass and continued (I am not sure if the passengers volunteered).

I continued sleeping. I woke up just as the bus was nearing Palakkad. We stopped at Chandranagar bypass to drop passengers (0658hrs) and continued to the city. We dropped more passengers at Palakkad fort (0703hrs) and finally terminated the trip outside the KSRTC bus station, at 0706hrs - 1 hour and 21 minute behind schedule, completing the distance of a little over 410 kilometres in a few minutes under 7 hours.

Remarks: The bus, KA-57-F-982, homed at Bengaluru-4 depot had about 14.52 Lakh kilometres on the clock! Both the crew members were excellent - they had great time sense, and tried their level best to make up time. They were friendly and soft-spoken as well. The bus was well maintained and the driving was excellent as well. Overall a good trip - leaving the delay part. 

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, did not use.
Entertainment: Available, not used.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

Pros: Great Service, Excellent crew.
Cons: Delay at departure

Will I take this service again? Absolutely!

Comments

rahulvijayev said…
Just pondering over the plight of the passengers who boarded from places like dairy circle, st. John's, silk board, electronic city etc. must have had to just stand and stand for hours together...

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