Bengaluru to Chennai: TranZking AC Sleeper

I was undecided about this journey. I had to reach Chennai on November 1st - I was a little confused if I must reach there the previous night, or take an overnight bus, or take the early morning bus from Bengaluru. The first option was among my foremost choices - for the fact that I could sleep well overnight and appear fresh for the program that I had to attend. I searched over for options for a late afternoon or an early evening departure - a long weekend coming up meant high fares and poor availability in highly rated operators. I stumbled upon a vacant single lower berth on TranZking a day before the journey - a completely by chance finding, and I guess this turned vacant by somebody's cancellation.

October 31, 2019:
After a busy day at work, including an hour of theory lecture and a lot of running around for some administrative work, I walked out of office a little past noon for an early lunch at a restaurant nearby. I booked a cab as I finished my lunch - he took a while to turn up - I still had plenty of time to connect to my bus. I reached Kalasipalya (my boarding point) a little before 1400hrs. I had received a message containing the tracking information of the bus - which showed that the bus was on its way and had closed in already. The bus turned up a little past 1400hrs - the bus parked outside their office in Kalasipalya.
The bus - KA-51-AB-5274 arriving at Kalasipalya

Boarding commenced soon after they parked there. The driver used a tablet computer to check passenger details - they had a printed boarding chart as a backup as well. Most of the upper berths were booked by a group of passengers - over 10 of them. A couple of them hadn't arrived - a delay in departure was imminent. The crew stood to their stand that they would depart on time - the others called up the missing people, and ensured their boarded. The bus started moving exactly at 1415hrs - perfectly on time.

The interiors were fresh - really well kept and spotless. The berths had a reclined backrest - making it really comfortable for a day journey. This would also be a great addition for people who wish to stretch, but not really lay down completely during an overnight journey. A pillow and blanket was kept on each berth as well. The attendant came around distributing water bottles, a wet face wipe and earphones soon after departure. The berths had individual LCD screens - they had placed earphone jacks above each berth instead of speakers - while this was a great way to let passengers travel in peace if they didn't want to watch the movie, I found the earphones were very uncomfortable and preferred a speaker instead.
Amenities provided in the bus..

Traffic was on the lighter side - diwali was just over and another long weekend was right around the corner - explains why there was very little traffic on a weekday afternoon. It drizzled a little bit - not a downpour by any chance. We reached Madiwala (near Ayyappa temple, opposite SV Hospital) by around 1447hrs - boarding happened quickly. I used this break to purchase some snacks from a shop nearby - and remained near the bus till the crew signalled they were ready to depart. The bus started from Madiwala at 1452 hrs - 8 minutes before schedule. Roads were less crowded compared to a routine weekday - we managed to reached Madiwala police station by 1455hrs - a three minute stop here to complete boarding. We started off by 1458hrs - about 12 minutes before departure.

We crossed Silk Board flyover soon later, and stopped outside the Renault showroom there - a set of passengers boarded soon later, and moved forward by 1504hrs - only to be parked on the roadside a little ahead. A long wait ensued since a few passengers were yet to board - we were running early, and this wait didn't delay us. We started off from there at 1515hrs - we took the elevated highway, and rushed towards Hosur. We did not have pick-up at Electronic city or elsewhere - traffic at Attibele was light, as well. A series of comedy clips were played on the entertainment system - and it did keep me engrossed for the journey ahead. We got to Hosur by 1554hrs - in fact, the bus stopped at a point opposite the bus station, instead of the usual point before the flyover. We started off from Hosur at 1601hrs - a minute behind schedule.

A movie was played soon after we left Hosur - it rained quite a bit after we left Hosur. A crime thriller movie was played - and it was quite engrossing as well. The earphones weren't very comfortable - and the sound was quite poor as well. The driving style was excellent - very controlled and stable. The AC was set at comfortable temperature as well. We pulled over for a break at Hotel Anandhas past Pallikonda (1809hrs). The crew announced a quick break - at the same time encouraged people to have 'snacks'. We were joined by another bus to Chennai - the restaurant was busy, but the service was quick.  Another bus joined us a little before we resumed our journey. The bus started off at 1837hrs.
The berth - the backrest was a very comfortable addition

The bus stopped at Vellore to drop passengers, and continued (1850hrs) to Chennai. Traffic was slowly thickening - slowing down our progress slowly. We reached Sriperumbudur at 2013hrs - quickly dropped passengers and moved on. We got to Poonamallee bypass by 2058hrs - two minutes earlier than scheduled. The bus turned off from the highway and turned towards Iyyappanthangal due to predicted traffic snarls around Maduravoyal. Luck was not on our side - traffic was terrible around Iyyappanthangal and we continued crawling - perhaps worse than what would have been the case if we had gone straight to Maduravoyal instead. Things got worse as we turned towards Vanagaram toll - it took close to half an hour to get to the toll gate from Ramachandra itself. We finally made it to Maduravoyal by 2152hrs - close to an hour since we left Poonamallee. We stopped near Rohini Metro to drop some passengers and quickly rushed towards the Tranzking bus terminus at Koyambedu - reaching there at 2205hrs, 35 minutes behind schedule.

Remarks: The bus, KA-51-AB-5274, had clocked about 2.6 Lakh kilometres. Based on an Ashok Leyland TF1812 chassis, and a body built by SM Kannappa Automobiles aka Prakash (model: Vega), the interiors were all premium. Excellent finish and very comfortable berths. The crew were great - very polite, but stood their ground about timings. They didn't do heroics on the road to maintain time - but ensured they maintained pace on the highway. TranZking generally is among the costliest on the route - and I always wanted to try them. The experience was good, and would certainly be on my repeat list!

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, worked.
Entertainment: Available - a movie played.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 [will give them full marks despite the delay for their willingness to maintain time]

Overall: 5/5

Pros: Great Service, Excellent crew.
Cons: Pricey on weekends

Will I take this service again?  Surely!

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