Bengaluru to Bijapur: VRL Volvo B9R Sleeper coach

Bijapur was my second examination duty. The travel options to Bijapur (Vijayapura) was limited, just like Kalaburagi. There were, actually, a lot of options among non-AC buses - but I was specifically looking for AC buses. I decided to pick VRL, again, this time - their Volvo Sleeper instead of the seater, though. I was traveling on a Friday, and VRL had priced their Sleeper at a 50% premium - I had no choice, but to find out the best offers on the internet, and the ticket was booked using the Abhibus mobile application. 

January 31, 2020:
I had spent almost the entire day trying to figure out which bus would be taking me to Vijayapura (Bijapur) that evening. A fairly newer bus had operated the route the previous night, and I had hopes of that repeating. The bus details were updated later in the evening - an older bus was listed, and I found it was converted from a seater coach to a sleeper coach by VRL's in-house workshop at Varur, Hubli. I was quite eager to see how it goes. 

I returned quite late from office that day, and had quite little time before I left home for Bijapur. I left home quite in advance since I had to take my dinner before boarding the bus. I did not take the risk of waiting for a direct bus - decided to stick to my trusted option of taking the metro. I got to Yeshwantpur a little past 2100hrs - almost an hour before my bus would reach there. I headed straight to Hallimane for dinner - opted to have the sumptuous meal from there. I love the meals at this place - yummy Ragi Roti, Akki roti (flat bread made of rice flour), Chapati and delicious curries to go along. The assortment of rice is also great. The meal can be quite filling for people going there unprepared. 

I ate very slowly, and left the hotel only around 2145hrs - about 15 minutes before the scheduled departure of my bus. The entire area was crowded - it was a Friday, and most part of the city heads to their hometowns during weekends. There was a steady stream of buses heading to different parts of the state - from an assortment of operators. My bus turned up at the pick-up point around 2209hrs - about 9 minutes behind schedule. They started boarding right away, and quite unusually they verified seat numbers and cross-checked names before allowing in passengers - I've never seen this happen with VRL. My berth was in the third 'row' - the lower berth (that I had booked) was quite low. The headroom was amazing - I could sit straight quite comfortably. The catch was that the window was small - probably about 10 centimetres in height, and quite high up that looking out of the window was impossible. 
The bus: PY-05-A-1602 after reaching Bijapur

The AC vents were blowing out air at a very high speed - the was berth was quite cold even with both the air vents closed. There was no separate pillow, but a raised portion at the head end of the berth. The berth was sufficiently wide, and long for me. We started off from Yeshwantpur at 2213hrs. I was completely blind about where we were since I had no way to see what is happening outside - I used my mobile camera to actually see what was happening outside. We got to Goreguntepalya VRL office by 2225hrs - this halt was quite long. We got moving by 2231hrs. I was half asleep by now - it was quite a tiring day. The bus stopped to pick a passenger from Jalahalli cross (2237hrs) and then moved on. I slept in no time, and not sure if we had further pick-up on the way. I woke up just as I felt the bus leaving the highway, and entering some property - around the same time, the crew announced a Dinner break (0001hrs) - we had just pulled in to VRL Hotel, past Tumkur. 

The bus was turned off, and it was getting claustrophobic - I got off the bus, took a stroll and remained outside till the crew returned. We started off after the break at 0024hrs. I slept soon after we started off - and it was a very comfortable sleep as well. The blanket provided by VRL wasn't very wide or long - which makes matters uncomfortable in a sleeper coach. I was wearing a sweatshirt (very unusually) - which helped matters a bit for me. I slept for quite long - woke up hearing the crew calling out for passengers alighting at "Railway gate" - it was still quite dark outside. I had to turn on the map to find where we were - I found that we had reached the outskirts of Bijapur already. We dropped some passengers near some railway gate (0632hrs) and rushed towards the city. Interestingly, the bus had taken just a little over 6 hours to travel from the break point (the VRL hotel). We got to Marathi vidyalaya stop at Bijapur, by 0638hrs - most of the passengers alighted here, while some us who had to head towards the bus station remained in the bus. The bus started off from there at 0649hrs, travelled a little forward towards the bus station, and stopped near the bus station at 0651hrs - about 9 minutes before scheduled time!

Remarks: The bus, PY-05-A-1602, had about 21.9 Lakh Kilometres on the clock! The bus about a month short of turning 8 years on the day of the journey. The interiors were basic - but very well kept. Although there were individual LCD screens in every berth, I doubt if they were functional. Due to the presence of the LCD berth, the bag rack was sorely missed. The berth was fairly wide and long. A seperate pillow was missed, but the raised pillow area was fairly comfortable enough. The cushioning on the berth was quite soft as well. The crew were great - as usual. Announcements were made on the PA system - this made sure it was audible to everybody. The bus was very well maintained - it traveled quite fast at night - but I didn't realize anything at all! Overall, another great journey with VRL. 

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Pillow: No
Water: No
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

Overall: 5/5

Pros: Punctuality, Awesome ride, great crew.
Cons: Ageing bus

Will I take this service again? A great option on the route!

Comments

Unknown said…
9 PM VRL Bangalore shirdi bus also takes bijapur sholapur route and it reached bijapur around 6 am when i travelled in it.
rahulvijayev said…
When the bus is converted from seater to sleeper:

1. Do they have to change registration from KA to some other state?
2. Will they get fitness certificate? Will the RTO reject it?
3. Does the VRL workshop have ARAI ceritification?
Binai K Sankar said…
@Rahulvijay

1. There are a lot of reasons why they register sleeper buses outside Karnataka - that is a lot of details that I wouldn't prefer putting on public domain.
2. A bus cannot operate on the road without a fitness certificate. So the fact that the bus was operating a trip means it has a fitness certificate.
3.Yes. VRL has ARAI certification.

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