Bengaluru to Chennai: DreamLiner AC Sleeper!

DreamLiner Travels has been on my radar since quite a long time. Every journey of mine to Chennai has been an experiment - I've tried my best to review a new operator on every opportunity, except at times when I required a guaranteed arrival time. This journey to Chennai was also dedicated to try a new operator - DreamLiner is not a 'new' operator, as such, but a new operator for me. This operator has been consistently receiving positive reviews, and they had a bus at a timing that suited me, plus a pick-up point that was convenient to me. I compared on a few OTAs, and finally booked my ticket on redbus - the incumbent leader, and my personal favorite off late.

November 29, 2019:
I had originally planned to take a public transit bus from near my office, and then walk down to my pick-up point. The pick-up point address was a little confusing, and made me think of a different place. But then, google maps helped out with the actual location - it appeared a little longer than I expected to walk down from the bus station, and as it would finally happen everytime, I decided to book a cab instead. The cabbie dropped me close to the pick-up point - I voluntarily alighted a little before the pick-up point, since the office was located on a one-way street. I had received the tracking information from the operator already, and it showed the bus was already close to the pick-up location. The bus was parked a little away, waiting for the parking location closer to the pick-up point to clear. The bus was finally brought to the point at 1505hrs - a whole 25 minutes before scheduled time.
The bus: NL-01-B-1368

They didn't begin boarding until 1530hrs - the scheduled departure time. They were still awaiting some of the passengers to turn up, and this was sure to delay our departure. Meanwhile, I got into the bus - the attendant requested that baggage be placed inside the bus till we reached Madiwala, since it was quite difficult to open the baggage hold due to traffic on the road. The request was made very decently and politely - I got into the bus, and on to my berth. I had an upper berth this time around - I generally prefer single lower berths, but a single upper berth was the best I could find in this bus. There was no shelf to place my bag - since the AC ducting passed through the area where the shelf is normally placed - this meant two things: One I had to keep my bag on the berth itself, and two, the berth was shorter.
The interiors - felt premium.

The intrusive AC duct, pictured on the double berth on the other side of my berth

The interiors were good - basic, but felt premium. The finish was outstanding, and there was nothing over the wall. The berth was comfortable - a pillow was provided as well. There was no inclined backrest though. No entertainment options were available either. We started off from Anand Rao Circle, my pick-up point, at 1536hrs - about 6 minutes behind schedule. We crawled through traffic at Corporation Circle, and we took the Lalbagh road to get to Shantinagar - the bus first stopped at the DLT office (agent) near Family court - picked a few passengers and then started off at 1611hrs - passed the traffic signal and then stopped again outside the Shantinagar TTMC - a two minute halt and then started off at 1616hrs.

Evening traffic was slowly building up - it was a Friday evening, and Bangalore was slowly packing up for the mandatory weekend trips. We got to Madiwala DreamLiner Lounge by 1645hrs - majority of the passengers joined the bus here. I was at the door when we rolled in to this place - and rushed off the bus to leave my bag in the baggage hold - I was finding it tight on my berth! Fresh blankets and welcome kits were being loaded into the bus at the moment. Bags were placed in the hold, and the crew marked the bags with seat numbers. We started from Madiwala at 1653hrs, about 23 minutes behind schedule. We crawled in to Silk Board by about 1658hrs - quickly finished boarding and started off (13 minutes late now). The attendant distributed welcome kits soon after this pick-up. A non-woven polypropylene bag was given out - this bag contained a 500ml bottle of water, a packet of Lays chips, a packet of cookies and a face wipe!
The welcome kit

We entered the elevated tollway towards Electronic City, and I decided to lay down. It was not possible to sit - for two reasons: One, there was no backrest; two, the roof was low, and it was very difficult to sit straight. The bus got to Electronic City toll gate by 1712hrs - quickly loaded passengers, and got moving by 1714hrs. Our next pick-up was at Bommasandra - which was a quick stop-pick-go stop (1718hrs). I slept soon after this pick-up. It gets really boring when there is no entertainment, and you can't sit so comfortably either. I had a nice long sleep - and woke up only as the bus stopped outside a hotel in Krishnagiri - I thought he was stopping for a break, but the driver had other intentions - he picked a passenger from here, and started off again! (1843hrs).

I lost my sleep, and decided to tune in to a movie instead. I badly wanted to use the restroom now - and really hoped the driver stopped somewhere. Meanwhile, we had turned to the Chennai highway, and we munching miles towards Chennai. The driver pulled over after Vaniambadi Toll gate (1925hrs) - at the restrooms available right after the toll plaza. I literally jumped off my berth and ran out of the bus - a lot of other people joined in. Everytime the driver prepared to start, one passenger would run out of the bus - finally the attendant went around announcing a toilet break. The entire bus had used the restrooms, and we started off from there at 1932hrs. We were pulled over for an RTO checking right after Pallionda toll - while I was mentally preparing to lose time, the bus started off from there (1 minute loss - left at 2019hrs).

I was now ready for the break - and was hopeful we stopped soon. We pulled over at Hotel Anandhaas at 2024hrs - the crew announced a 15 minute break here. I was quite hungry, and had my dinner from here. Anandhaas is a favorite halt for most operators on the route - needless to say, the restaurant serves great food, as well. We were joined by not less than 3 buses - and the place was crowded! The staff at the restaurant did a great job at serving all the passengers quickly - they kept the menu card simple and ensured they offered only items that could roll out of the kitchen soon. We finished our break, and started off at 2048hrs. We were quite behind schedule - I calculated a delay of atleast 45 minutes as we started off.

I watched the movie for a while more, and slowly dozed off as we continued our run to Chennai. I woke up hearing the attendant calling for passengers alighting at Poonamallee - we stopped at the bypass bus stop at 2257hrs, and quickly started off. I was quite drowsy and continued drifting asleep time and again. We stopped at Madhuravoyal at 2311hrs - and quickly started off. The attendant went around checking the dropping points of various passengers and ensured all of them were kept alerted. May be since it was quite late in the night, traffic had thinned out, and we were able to proceed quite fast enough. We stopped at Koyambedu metro station at 2319hrs. I checked with the attendant if we would go to the bus station - he said yes. The bus finally dropped me outside the CMBT City bus station at 2325hrs - 40 minutes behind schedule. While this meant a long walk for me to get to my hotel, I was still alright!

Remarks: The bus, NL-01-B-1368, was a 36-berth AC sleeper built on an Ashok Leyland TF1812 Chassis. This chassis is the hottest in the segment, and the preferred choice among operators. The sounds much more refined and makes much lesser noise compared to the previous CRS versions. The body was built by Veera Vahana (Model: V7). The berth was comfortable - save for the intrusive AC ducting. The ride quality was really good. The crew were great - very friendly and polite. The welcome kit provided was great - it helped overcome hunger pangs in the evening. Overall a great journey - that took 7h49m -higher than usual, but this is from Anand Rao circle onwards. Its an hour and 17 minutes lesser if you count from Madiwala, which is 6h32m - which is the normal running time!

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: 4.75/5

Pros: Comfortable, Quick, Polite Crew
Cons: Can be expensive during weekends!

Will I take this service again? Yes!

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