Thrissur to Bengaluru: Salabham Mercedes Benz 'DreamZ' Sleeper coach

MG built sleeper on Mercedes Benz Chassis launching tomorrow!

The very next day, the all new "Dreamz" built on Mercedes Benz OM2441 Chassis was launched by MG Bus & Coach, at the BusWorld Expo in Bengaluru. This happened in September 2018.

The launch bus was handed over to Salabham travels later. Some things went wrong. The bus didn't come to the road until early 2019. They ran the bus on routes - then went off roads for some time, and then again relaunched during Christmas 2019.

How can I not try this bus, was the question I had. The timings of this bus while it runs from Bengaluru to Thrissur was not very comfortable for me - I had to try it out in the opposite direction for sure. The bus terminates at Madiwala, and hence I had to budget for travel time from Madiwala till my residence - this effectively ruled out this option if I had to reach Bangalore on a working day. My turn to try this bus came when I looked for tickets to return after an extended holiday for Makar Sankranti. I was traveling home without a return ticket - for some reason, I checked tickets for return on Sunday. I found tickets were selling at super expensive prices (I am cost conscious, and try my best to avoid encouraging extortion) and had very low availability. I changed the return date to Saturday (I would have a day less at home - but I didn't have options now), and found seats selling quick. I didn't want to take a chance - quickly booked one. I usually prefer seats around the middle - ended up going one berth behind this time.

January 18, 2020:
It was a busy day at home - a little bit of shopping, some work at the bank, and some really quality time with my little one, and my better half. All of us were high on emotions as the clock slowly ticked closer to 2000hrs - I didn't want to leave home, but had to. I left my home a little past 2015hrs - walking up to the nearest bus stop. Buses were terribly crowded - it was the last day of the temple festival at Kodungallur, and the buses were carrying back people returning after the festival. The last bus to Thrissur - the one I had to travel in turned up perfectly on time, a little past 2045hrs. The bus was packed - I managed to get into the bus with difficulty. It was an interesting ride - the bus was crowded for most part of the ride - I was lucky to get a seat though.

I got to Thrissur a little by around 2145hrs - with enough time for my dinner. My first stop was a hotel near the KSRTC bus station - from where I had my dinner, and then spent some time in the KSRTC bus station. I was tracking my bus continuously and remained in the KSRTC bus station until the bus was closer to Thrissur. I headed to the office of the travel agent by around 2215hrs. The bus was running quite late - almost 15 minutes behind schedule at that point. The office had seats - I chose to remain outside the office. It was cooler outside and I was comfortable standing outside. Buses to Chennai and Bengaluru kept coming in one behind the other - my bus had reached the toll gate, and was stuck in traffic there.
The bus - PY-05-F-9037 (archives)

The bus turned up at the pick-up point at 2306hrs - 46 minutes behind schedule. The driver had to take the bus quite ahead of the office to find place to park - the attendant quickly got off the bus, started checking tickets, while another guy quickly helped people with bags. I got a whiff of freshness as I got into the bus - the interiors were classic, and not flashy at all. A grey tone was used overall, and the curtains were white. My berth was in the 5th "row". The lower berth was almost on the ground, with a little space below the berth for leaving footwear. There were no racks - I had to leave my bag on the berth, or in the gangway (which I, and most others, did).
Interiors (Archives)

The bus began moving at 2311hrs - I must say, I didn't even realise when it began moving. The bus had an automatic transmission - the bus didn't surge forward when the driver stepped on the gas pedal. It moved forward slowly - there was no way to know the bus started moving until one looked out of the window. The bus headed through Thrissur round, and then turned towards Palakkad road. I was enjoying the ride - the transmission was smooth and the ride was very comfortable. The berth was kinda long enough for me - I didn't hit the ends like I do in a Celeste. The berth was soft - the inbuilt pillow itself was tall enough, plus the extra pillow given by the operator made it all the more comfortable.

The AC vents were fully adjustable - I adjusted them to get my berth comfortable. A one-litre water bottle was placed in the bottle holder as well. We rolled in to Mannuthy by 2321hrs - more passengers joined in, and we started off by 2324hrs. I quickly checked on Google Maps, and found the road ahead was clear. I had tuned in to a movie by now - I wanted to see how the bus handled poor roads at Kuthiran. The driver took it slow there - the bus negotiated the section with ease. I didn't realised bad roads at all - great suspension, and very controlled body roll. The bus picked pace after Kuthiran, and we got to Palakkad bypass by 0024hrs - started off quickly after picking the last passenger. the bus was fully sold out - 40 on 40 berths sold.
The rear profile.. (Archives)

I slept soon after we passed Pampampallam toll gate (Near Walayar, the Kerala-TN border). I slept quite well - I avoided having water to prevent a bladder emergency. The AC was quite cold - the blanket was great and it helped a lot. The ride quality was outstanding - I didn't realise anything at all, till the attendant called out a break. We were at Omalur toll gate (0335hrs) - and the bus was stopped next to the Highway Nest Mini stall. There were clean restrooms here, and a couple of bakeries as well that sold tea and light snacks. The bus had a spectacular run - it was just a little over 3 hours since we left Palakkad, covering a distance of a little over 215kms!

We started off after the break at 0348hrs. I slept off again in no time - considering the distance to go to Bengaluru, I was expecting an arrival only after day-break. I woke up hearing the attendant walking around calling for passengers alighting at Electronic City - the bus was already entering the toll gate. We stopped for passenger drop at 0607hrs, and started off by 0609hrs. The bus took the elevated highway, and rushed towards Silk Board. We got there by 0616hrs - quickly completed passenger drop and rushed towards Madiwala. We had another stop, at Madiwala police station to drop a passenger (0618hrs) before we continued towards Madiwala. The bus finally completed its journey at Madiwala, near Enzen building, at 0622hrs - 7 hours and 11 minutes after we started from Thrissur. He took 2 hours and 34 minutes to cover a little over 180 kilometres from Omalur toll gate to Madiwala!! We were behind schedule by 7 minutes though!
The bus after dropping me at Madiwala - it was still dark!!

Remarks: The bus, PY-05-F-9037, had a little over 1.38 Lakh kilometres on the odo. The bus was kept in great shape, and the crew were great! The ride comfort was outstanding - the automatic transmission kept away all those jerks due to gear shifts. The sound insulation was great - I was only one row away from the engine, and I still couldn't hear a lot of noise from the engine. Mercedes Benz engines as such are really loud - the body builder (MG Bus & Coach) has done a great job of insulating noise. The bus did good speeds at night - which is evident from the fact that we took just over 7 hours to cover the distance. But the ride quality was so good that I didn't even realize the speed. Outstanding experience, I must say!

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Pillow: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, worked.
Entertainment: Not available.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 [Delay at departure, fairly on time at Bengaluru]

Overall: 5/5

Pros: Punctuality, Awesome ride, great crew.
Cons: Pricey during weekends.

Will I take this service again? Sure!

Comments

rahulvijayev said…
Some time back, there was a news of a bus catching fire in the inaugural run. Was it a Merc Benz Sleeper of this operator?

I have seen their Merc Sleeper (the one with wild animals livery) parked near Narayana Hridayalaya many times. May be coming after the routine checks at the Merc service centre in Bommasandra-Jigani link road.
Binai K Sankar said…
One bus was gutter while it was being driven from Belgaum to Pondicherry (For registration). The bus was a total loss, and Mercedes gave a replacement to the customer. The bus I traveled in was the replacement bus.

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