Chennai to Bengaluru: UST AC Sleeper

I just came out of the University, and like luck would have it, a bus to Koyambedu turned up soon after I reached the bus stop. And it had plenty of vacant seats too! I grabbed one right behind the driver and started searching for tickets to return to Bengaluru. I had a little work the next morning, and hence looked at buses departing at noon or later. I wanted to try some new operator - so most of the older players were out of the race. I stumbled up on UST Bus as I looked for options on the app - they also had the single lower berth that I was searching for! I quickly grabbed the berth - applied a coupon that was provided, and bagged some cool discounts.

UST Bus, or Uma Shankar Transports, is a new operator on the route. They offer AC sleeper buses on the route - they operate a day service during weekends in addition to their regular overnight services. They operate a pair of AC Sleeper buses - built by Veera Vahana (Model - V7) on Ashok Leyland TF1812 Chassis. They claim to offer premium services, and claim "Ultra Safe Travel" as their motto.

November 02, 2019:
After completing the works I had in the morning, I headed to a restaurant nearby for brunch - I was sure the lunch break would be quite late, and I needed a brunch to stay on for that long. I headed to the bus station soon after brunch - the heat was quite bad that I was dripping sweat by the time I reached the bus station. My bus had its pick-up point outside the CMBT Omni bus stand - at the fuel station. The tracking link sent by the operator allowed keep perfect track of the bus. The bus came in at 1145hrs - about 15 minutes prior to schedule departure time. The bus parked outside the fuel station - literally amidst slush and dirt! The attendant did a great job of handling passenger baggage despite being in the middle of dirt!
The bus: KA-59-3366

Boarding was handled really well - the driver checked seat numbers and let in passengers. A bottle of water was also handed over while boarding. The interiors were great - I am a fan of Veera interiors - they are generally utilitarian and sans overboard decorations. They followed a white theme for the interiors. The seats on this bus also had backrests - making for a comfortable ride over the day. Individual entertainment system was available - but wasn't turned on yet. Boarding took a little time - we were done, and started off at 1201hrs - a minute behind schedule. Traffic was slightly on the higher side around Koyambedu - there were no pick-ups around Maduravoyal. We continued towards Poonamallee soon later. Traffic got lighter as we crossed Maduravoyal. We got to Poonamallee bypass pickup point by 1229hrs.
My berth!

The driver picked pace soon after Poonamallee - it started drizzling as we left from there. We got to Kanchipuram by 1328hrs - picked a couple of passengers, and started off immediately, by 1329hrs. The crew were great - they maintained pace as much as they could. The bus seemed locked at 80kmph, and they maintained that speed for as much as they could. I waited for them to switch on the entertainment system - I realised quite late in to the journey that the screen was switched off - but I am sure they didn't play anything on the entertainment system. I tuned to a movie on my phone and remained occupied for the rest of the time.

Interestingly, the curtains weren't of the correct size - the curtains wouldn't shut flush - both the berth curtains as well as the window curtains.  Meanwhile, we stopped for picking up more passengers, at 1430hrs, at Vellore. This halt was a little long - we got moving only by 1437hrs. We hadn't taken a lunch break yet - I was getting a little hungry now - the brunch had digested already! We turned off the highway to a motel a little past Vellore, a hotel called Hotel Sai Sabari, at 1449hrs. A TN-SETC AC Seater bus was already at the motel. The hotel looked quite posh from outside - it appeared quite new, as well. The service was a little too slow - they took quite some time even to serve Lunch, which is usually the fastest to be served at hotels! We started off after lunch, at 1525hrs.
Posing with TN-SETC at the lunch break..

It drizzled a little after the halt - the driver was keeping pace on the highway. We passed Krishnagiri a little past 1700hrs - the sun was on my side as we turned towards Bengaluru. The curtains wouldn't shut close, and hence I had a tough time keeping away from the Sun. We reached Hosur at 1751hrs - dropped a passenger and continued towards Bengaluru. We had a small traffic block around Attibele toll - we passed the toll gate at 1809hrs. Traffic thickened as we neared the city - got thicker as we neared Electronic City. We got to Electronic city by 1836hrs. We took the elevated highway, and got to Silk Board by 1846hrs. We started off quickly after dropping passengers (1848hrs) and rushed towards the city.

The attendant came around checking alighting points soon later - he confirmed that the bus would go until Majestic. The next stop was at Madiwala (1852hrs) - the bus stopped outside their office, the attendant went in to get something. We started off at 1854hrs. Traffic thickened as we entered the city - we dropped a few passengers outside Lalbagh (1922hrs) and rushed towards Majestic. The bus finally got to Majestic - and stopped outside the Ganapati temple, on Tank Bund road, at 1944hrs - about an hour and 9 minute behind schedule. However, the run time was great, especially for a bus locked at 80kmph!

Remarks: The bus, KA-59-3366, was quite fresh and really well maintained. The interiors were clean and smelled fresh. The attendant was cordial and soft spoken - so were the drivers. They were a little concerned when they saw that most passengers were yet to get their food at the hotel - they spoke to the staff around to pace up a little, and waited patiently for all passengers to return. The driving was a little rash at some places - but was good, on the whole. The crew did their best to maintain timings - but a 6:30hrs run between two cities - both high on traffic is impossible for a day bus, especially one that is locked at 80kmph. Despite all that, the bus completed the run in 7h43m, which is commendable!

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, worked.
Entertainment: Available - not used.

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, Value for money.
Cons: They have only a pair of buses - no backups if something were to go wrong.

Will I take this service again? Sure! Recommended!

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