Thrissur to Bengaluru: KSRTC Ambaari Dream Class

The Ambaari Dream Class service by KSRTC was the best option considering the fact that it was a long weekend. I couldn't get a train ticket (there are no trains that gets to Bangalore early enough to comfortably get to office is the true fact) and private operators would, no doubt, charge a bomb. KSRTC had also increased fares for this date - but that was still the cheapest option for that day. I booked my ticket exactly on the opening date - I actually missed booking right after the booking opened. Although I missed the opening chance, I still got a single lower berth - in the fifth row.

February 23, 2020:
I had enjoyed the last three days playing with my kid - her mood changes; and her lovely, mesmerizing and contagious smile. It was time to leave. It is always difficult to leave home, especially after my little one came. With a really heavy heart, I got moving towards the nearest bus stop, where where I'd take a bus to Thrissur, 35 kilometres away. A dawn to dusk harthal (a strike action or a shut down) was called, but this was not complete, as is the norm in Kerala. Fewer buses than usual operated, and I had a fairly longish wait to get a bus. A bus turned up after about 15 minutes of waiting - the bus had more passengers that what is usual on a Sunday evening. I got a seat a little into the journey. The bus dropped me outside the KSRTC bus station in Thrissur by around 1945hrs - about 30 minutes to go for my bus. I received an SMS with details of the bus a little before I reached the bus station, meaning the bus had already arrived at the bus station.

I was a little confused if I should finish my dinner before boarding, or have my food when the bus stops for dinner. I took a quick decision to head to Hotel Aradhana right outside the bus station. The place serves amazing Dosas - a variety of them actually. I ordered a Tattil Kutti Dosa (Known as Set Dose in Bengaluru) - these are small dosa (three of them, actually) that aren't roasted a lot. They are kinda heavy enough for dinner. I really love the Chutneys this hotel service. If you are on the hunt for good food around the KSRTC bus station, I'd surely recommend this place (only for the vegetarian food, though).

I headed into the bus station with about 10 minutes for departure of my bus - the bus was parked right outside their reservation counter. KSRTC (Karnataka) has a reservation counter at Thrissur, and also an officer to control departures - highlighting the importance of Thrissur to their South Kerala operations. I reported my attendance to the conductor and headed to the restroom. Boarding was happening quite fast - majority of the passengers were boarding at Thrissur, while the rest were to board at Palakkad. This bus has only two boarding points. I had traveled on the same bus in December as well. I was traveling one row behind the berth I had taken last time.
The bus (Archives)

The coach looks awesome with all its lighting. The berth was sufficiently wide, and long for me. A bedsheet and a blanket was placed on the berth already - I hadn't used the bed sheet last time - but decided to spread it out this time around. The berth has an inbuilt pillow - this was sufficiently high enough to give the comfort of a pillow. There was a bag shelf, a charging point and mobile holder. The reading lamp was working as well. There were two air vents - one near the head, which is adjustable; and the second near the leg, which is non-adjustable. We started off from Thrissur at 2020hrs - about 5 minutes behind schedule.

We hit the highway soon later - and thankfully the highway didn't have much of traffic. The infamous Kuthiran pass was also clear. The bus pulled over for dinner at a hotel near the newly built Toll gate, near Vadakkencherry (2111hrs). I headed to the tea shop nearby for a nice black tea and kept wandering around until the crew returns. We started off from the hotel at 2134hrs. I tried sleeping for a while after we started. As I woke up, the bus had already turned away from the highway, and was heading to the bus station. We got to the bus station by 2213hrs - boarding was real quick, and we took off at 2217hrs. I somehow managed to doze off after Palakkad, and slept fairly continuously.
A quick video of the bus (pardon my videography skills - do support!)

I woke up finding the bus stationary somewhere - the time was around 0255hrs. Google told me we were at Thoppur toll gate. This was a restroom break - the crew hadn't announced though. The engine, and the airconditioner, were running as well. As more and more people kept heading to the restroom, the crew turned on all lights. We finally started off at 0302hrs after this break. I was now sure we'll reach late in Bengaluru - the crew had no intentions of picking pace either. We crawled in the middle lane for most part of the journey - even trucks overtook us with ease. I slept for some more time, and woke up just as the crew called out for Electronic city passengers. We dropped people (0514hrs) and took the elevated highway from there.

We got welcomed to Silk Board by heavy traffic - literally crawling traffic. We got to the flyover by 0546hrs, quickly dropped passengers and took off. We had drops at Madiwala police station (0549hrs) and St. Johns Hospital (0553hrs). After this, the conductor came around asking for the drop points of the remaining passengers - he also checked vacant berths for any left behind items. As we turned towards Shantinagar, I was a little concerned if the crew were terminate the service there. But the bus stopped outside the bus station (0604hrs) instead of entering, and this gave me hope that the bus would head to KBS (Majestic). The bus finally reached Majestic at 0618hrs - 48 minutes behind schedule.

Remarks: The bus, KA-57-F-3953 homed at Bengaluru-2 depot, had about 32000kilometres. The bus was fresh during my last trip in it. The bus was really well kept - and clean inside out. The crew were good - very polite and soft-spoken. I am, particularly, not a fan of their driving style - this crew were no different either. I am really awestruck at their capability of being able to lug the engine even with an automated transmission! The engine cried out at the top of its voice through the journey - people in the last berth would've been itching all the time for sure. The bus could've reached Bangalore on time, or atleast with lesser delay if they had maintained better pace. 

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Pillow: No
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, Worked!
Entertainment: Not Available.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 4/5 [All for the lugging]
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4/5 (5 minutes late at origin, 48 minutes late at destination)

Overall: 4/5

Pros: Awesome ride, great crew, Value for money.
Cons: Slow driving, lugging, punctuality

Will I take this service again? Maybe third time lucky! One more attempt for sure!

Comments

rahulvijayev said…
In a recent report related to the Kerala RTC Volvo accident, I read that Karnataka RTC had mileage targets for 4-5 kmpl for long route services and this is recorded on regular basis and the crew who are not able to achieve this is shifted to other services. Is this true? Is this the reason why they are lugging the engine at optimal speeds?
Binai K Sankar said…
You cannot lug an engine at "optimum" speeds. It's called lugging because the bus isn't achieving optimum speeds for the particular rpm band in a specific gear.
Sunup said…
Once on an Ernakulam>Bangalore Airawat CC Scania trip, I got real irritated with the lugging and when we reached Thrissur, asked the driver why he did so inspite of the transmission being automated. He just smiled and said 'for better mileage, coz automatic mode gives lesser mileage'. But I think that if you drive with a gentle foot, the automatic mode would give better mileage and comfort (both to pax and engine). I have a Tata Nano XTA that has both automatic gear shift as well as option to manually shift the gears. In the manual mode, if I try to upshift without reaching optimal speed and engine RPM, a built-in buzzer would buzz away to glory and the gear indicator on the meter console would blink along with a downward arrow till I downshift back to the correct gear. Wish such a system was there in these buses too. Maybe that would prevent the drivers from up-shifting early and not downshifting when needed and thus prevent lugging.
Binai K Sankar said…
@Sunup, Scania can be driven in manual mode. Volvo B11R does not have that option. This is why I find it really intriguing aa to how do the crew manage to lug an automated box, when the box is supposed to downshift when the speed falls.
nambi said…
Super Bro. Better start youtube channel and post travel video as well other than blogging. Simple video footage is enough like exterior and interior if possible with travel shots with 10 min duration. Not only travel also bus related news and videos too u can share it.
Sunup said…
Oh okay, Binai, I thought even Volvo B11R had the manual mode option. Please have a look at this link...

https://www.volvobuses.com/en-th/our-offering/coaches/volvo-b11r-euro3-5.html

It has a picture of the i-shift gear select system, that has plus and minus buttons on the lever. So in B11R these buttons are not present?
Binai K Sankar said…
The manual option existed in the BS3 B11R. Ot isn't present in the BS4 versions.

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