Coimbatore to Bengaluru: Metrolink Travels BharatBenz Sleeper

I am still clueless why I had left booking tickets for this date. I had booked a ticket to head to Palakkad (by train, which was eventually cancelled and replaced with a bus from Chennai) but hadn't booked any ticket for my return. I was expecting tickets to be available, and began looking for tickets quite late. By then, my favorite bus from Palakkad was already sold out, and special buses had tickets going at astronomical rates. Buses from Coimbatore were no different - I had no choices from there either. I realised that some operators hadn't opened bookings, and I had to take the risk of waiting for them. As the date neared, I found that Metrolink travels, a new player on the route, had opened bookings. The lower berths were gone already, and I could get a single upper berth instead.

September 02, 2019:
It was a rainy day. It continued drizzling even as it was evening. I had to leave early - I decided to leave early to avoid getting stuck in traffic on the way. This turned out to be a great decision - read on! I took a bus from TW's place at 1805hrs - and the bus got me to Palakkad by 1920hrs. I rushed to the KSRTC bus station soon later - I was in for a shock when I got there. There was not a single bus to Coimbatore, and there were enough passengers to fill no less than three buses there! I left three buses, and got into the mob to get into the fourth - I was successful, and managed to get a window seat as well. It rained down quite hard as we got on to the highway - the rain was really hard and the bus kept going slow since visibility was poor.

There was fairly terrible traffic as we neared Coimbatore town as well - the approach to Ukkadam was jammed, and it took quite some time to get to Ukkadam. I ended up having to wait for a while to get a bus to Gandhipuram from Ukkadam, and at the end of all this, I reached Gandhipuram at 2200hrs - with exactly twenty minutes to go for my bus. I had to take my dinner before I got into the bus. I literally ran towards Annapurna near the Central bus station and asked the waiter to get whatever he could within 5 minutes - I got a plate of yummy Pongal with the characteristic Annapurna Sambar. I loved the food, even as I had to gobble it down quickly. I finished the food, and ran out to the pick-up point, which was right opposite the hotel.

I had received a welcome message from the operator, and also a message with the tracking link and crew details. The tracking link showed that my bus was closing in - however, I also received an apology message saying the bus was delayed! The bus turned up at my pick-up point at 2224hrs - 4 minutes behind the scheduled time. The attendant quickly opened the luggage bay and started keeping in bags. The driver welcomed passengers and directed them to get in - the second driver was checking seat numbers and personally directing passengers to their berth (he continued doing this for every passenger through the journey). The bus got moving at 2233hrs - 13 minutes behind schedule.
The bus - NL-01-B-1486

First impression about the bus - wow! They had wooden panelling on the roof, LED lighting and speakers. The berths were soft and wide enough. The upper berth didn't have a lot of protective railing - which was good in a way. Getting into the berth and out of it was really easy and comfortable. A small rack to keep my backpack on was a great addition. There were totally three air vents for the berth - two of them were adjustable, while one was always open. I was in love with the interiors in no time.

We had pick-ups at Lakshmi Mills (2242), Nava India (2248) and Airport (2301). I was in love with the way the crew handled passengers - they helped each passenger with their bags, and personally directed them to their berths. The bus took a left at the airport, and headed straight towards Sathyamangalam. This bus took a rather unique route - via Kurumbapalayam, Kovilpalayam, Annur, Sathyamangalam, Gobichettipalayam, Chithode bypass and then the usual route via Salem and Hosur to Bengaluru. This stretch from the Airport until Chithode bypass, about 40 kms longer than the conventional route via Avinashi, was entirely two laned, but had low traffic. The driver maintained quite good pace in the stretch, but the two-laned road meant quite a lot of horizontal sways and I was being tumbled continuously.

I was traveling in an upper berth after long - it was a little tough to adjust initially, especially the higher swaying movements. Meanwhile, we had stopped at Sathyamangalam to pick passengers - I was half asleep them, and did not notice the time. We had stopped at Gobichettipalayam (Gobi) to pick more passengers (around 0039hrs). The bus stopped for a quick leak break soon after it returned to the highway - this was in response to a passengers request, but the crew made it a point to announce it so that everyone could use it. We got moving from there by 0105hrs. I had a nice long sleep after the break - a fairly deep sleep. I slept so well that I didn't realise anything through the journey - I was woken up as the attendant came around waking about every passenger announcing that we had reached Bengaluru!

We were running past Narayana Hrudayalaya then. The bus rolled into Electronic City toll gate at 0526hrs - and we were pulled over by the RTO for checking. They were stopping all non-Karnataka registered buses alone (this bus was registered in far away Nagaland!). We weren't stopped for long - we moved quickly, cleared the toll gate, dropped passengers and continued towards Silk Board (0530hrs). We took the elevated highway and got to Silk Board quickly - we did have quite a bit of traffic, but then we were quite early and traffic was still building. We reached Silk Board at 0551hrs, dropped passengers and got moving by 0553hrs. The next stop was at Madiwala police station (0556hrs) followed by Madiwala St. Johns (0558hrs).

The crew had individually asked each passenger about their drop location They remembered each of them, and kept calling out the placing and reminding each passenger. They stopped at Christ to drop a passenger next (0602hrs). I had moved to the first berth by now, and quickly checked with the crew if they'd go to Majestic - to which they apologised and said Kalasipalya would be the last drop point. I didn't have an issue with that - they were apologetic even as I alighted. The bus finally terminated at Kalasipalya (on TSP road) at 0614hrs - 44 minutes behind schedule.

Remarks: The bus, NL-01-B-1486, had clocked about 48000 kilometres. The bus was in pristine shape - absolutely well kept. The interiors were fabulous - it was clean, fresh and very welcoming. The crew were warm, very accommodating and extremely friendly. They thanked each passenger as they alighted and curiously asked their feedback. I really loved their service. The driving style was very very sleep friendly. The berth was comfortable - a very comfortable pillow and soft blanket was provided as well. The friendly crew gave out water bottles and a packet of biscuit to each passenger. This operator seems to be the hot favorite among a lot of passengers - they sell out really fast! Outstanding service - one that I'd surely come back for!

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: Yes
Charging Point: Available, worked.
Entertainment: Not Available.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.95/5

Pros: Great Service, fairly punctual, Excellent crew, Excellent bus!
Cons: Couldn't find any!

Will I take this service again? Absolutely!

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