On the KSRTC Garuda yet again....

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation's Volvo service to Trivandrum, from Bangalore, is renowned to stick to its timetable and is a well maintained service. I had a personal need to travel to Alappuzha on the 27th of this month. I booked tickets on the Bangalore-Trivandrum KSRTC Volvo the previous Saturday, and I was allotted my usual seat - #13 - on this bus too. 

I was at home on Wednesday due to certain personal reasons (did not attend office). I left home at around 1500 hours, to board the bus that would depart from Majestic at 1700 hours. As I reached Bannerghatta Road, I saw a Volvo sneaking off. Disappointed, I stood at the bus stop for an 'empty' bus towards the city. An old Pass Bus came around, and the driver shouted at the top of his voice that the bus was proceeding to Majestic. I jumped in and grabbed a nice window seat. The run was slow owing to a couple of deviations and traffic snarls associated with it. I was slightly tense through the run. The driver picked speed as soon as he was back on the normal route. However, the absence of a conductor (the driver does the ticketing himself) was a hinderance to our progress. 

Clearing all hurdles, we were soon approaching Majestic. The last stretch of road was unusually empty and we sped through. The bus soon crawled into Majestic, and I jumped down as soon as the bus entered the bus station. Headed off straight to the Canara Bank ATM right outside the bus station and then to the Inter-state (KSRTC) bus station. The guard at the entrance reluctantly 'brushed' the metal detector on my bag. It did give some beeps, but he was least interested. I rushed towards Platform 14 (from where my bus would depart). 

The bus - KL15 7231, RA 101 of TVM depot - was indeed parked there. As I stepped on to the bus, the driver asked if I had a reservation. I said yes and then deposited my bag on the hatrack. I headed off to a shop to get some refreshment. Then came back to snap a couple of images. The conductor was yet to come, and hence the driver was asking each passenger if they had reserved. In the mean time, a very old Karnataka SRTC Volvo came around and the service was working a 1630 departure to Chennai (the time was already 1650). 

The monster that took me to Alappuzha... this was the same bus, on which I did my first ever Trivandrum-Bangalore bus journey.

Our driver cranked up the 7-litre engine and the airconditioners were switched on. He also switched on FM radio on the entertainment system. The conductor arrived and quickly started checking tickets, and also issuing tickets to those who hadn't reserved. The white whale moved out of the bus station sharp at 1700. The driver found it slightly hard to navigate bus - I think he was on one of his initial runs. The bus switched off as he tried to negotiate a speed breaker. However, he regained composure soon and the bus quickly joined the traffic queue. The run from Majestic to Madiwala was painfully slow, and took over 45 minutes, for a distance of under 12 kilometres. 

Two passengers joined at Madivala. The driver was very considerate, and did stop for anyone who waved on the road side. Afterall, there were only 17 passengers in the 45-seater bus!!! The co-driver switched on a movie as soon as we crossed Electronic City. The ride ahead from here was eventless. Since there were too little passengers in the bus, every body could occupy a window. The aisle seat near me was vacant, and I made full use of it by lying across!!!

We picked up yet another passenger at Hosur - who seemed to be a regular. The run ahead was normal, and the driver maintained decent speeds - in the range of 80~110kmph. Somewhere around Krishnagiri, a guy on a motorbike decided to cross the road irrespective of the fact that a white coloured monster - with about 4 pairs of blazing lamps and a blarring horn - was charging at him. The driver braked at the right time and we were saved of the agony to go behind the police. 

The bus while waiting at Dinner Break....

The bus stopped at a way-side motel for dinner, a while after Krishnagiri. We stopped at 1940. The motel - which is nothing more than a tin shed, with parking space for atleast 6 buses - was too busy at that hour that no waiter turned up for atleast 5 minutes. There were about 5 buses already parked when we stopped by for dinner - prominent among the buses was the Kerala SRTC superfast to Ernakulam. I had a very quick dinner and headed out for some photography. Interestingly - and annoyingly - the motel was making full out of passengers' helplessness. Almost all products were over-priced and the service was least decent. There are no motels for long distances on the highway, and passengers are left to the mercy of such shady motel operators. 

The driver filling water into the wind-shield washer tank.

I was out for some photography, just when I noticed the driver opening the bumper to fill water for windscreen washers. It started raining a while after the driver completed the refilling operation. It was pouring at a very heavy pace and the driver had a tough time backing out the bus from the parking. The run after dinner was painfully slow, since the rain was too heavy and visibility was really poor. The driver maintained steady speeds through the rain. It dried up as we approached Dharmapuri. We did not take a turn at Dharmapuri, and ran straight towards Salem. We dropped a passenger at Salem by-pass and then continued into the city. The bus stopped at a place that resembled a bus station for a while and then continued its run. 

The road was in a very bad state after Salem. The section was filled with potholes and the road had only one lane each for up and down traffic. The bus had to slow down in this section. The bad state of the road continued till we reached somewhere around Erode. The bus took another break after the four-laned road started, and this was in the middle of no-where. By now, the first movie was over and the second one too was close to finish. The movie soon got over and the partition screens were pulled down.  

My sleep was heavily disturbed by the gentleman sitting right behind me. He was listening to songs on a personal MP3 player, using an earphone. But the volume was adequate for the entire bus to listen to music!!! I pity these people who torture their eardrums for some momentary pleasure on hearing loud music. I managed to overcome the torture from behind and caught up some nap. Thanks to a bedsheet that I was carrying, I was immune to the cold air from the AC. The temperature was varying from 22 to 26 deg celsius. 

The bus reached Coimbatore bus station at 0030 hours - it stopped momentarily outside the bus station. I slept soon after the bus started from Coimbatore. The crew entered all bus station hoping to get some passengers, but in vain. We also entered Palakkad, but got no passengers. We also entered Thrissur - luckily got one passenger. We left Thrissur at 0300. One fact that I noticed is that both Palakkad and Thrissur was packed with buses parked at every corner. With KSRTC adding more buses every year, it surely needs to add more depots. The Volvo driver had a tough time negotiating the bus through the little space that was available at Thrissur bus station.

The driver put up an amazing show as we left Thrissur. We reached Ernakulam bus station at 0425. I was surprised, since Volvo guys avoid the bus station and go straight through the by-pass. Perhaps, the fact that the bus had very little passengers forced the crew to enter the bus station. We left Ernakulam at 0430. Ernakulam bus station was no different, and buses were seen parked at every nook and corner. The driver zipped out of the bus station, and we exited through Vytilla, instead of the normal route via Aroor. 

The conductor came around to remind me as the bus neared Alappuzha. I requested him to drop me slightly ahead of the town, since Autos were not seen very frequently. The driver stopped at the requested place - a very nice gesture since it was too early in the morning to get public transportation. I got down from the bus at 0515. The promised time of arrival was 0500 - we were just 15 minutes late and this was despite the fact that we entered almost all bus stations on the route!!!

An amazing show.... The Kerala SRTC Volvo service has an amazing product. They could spruce up the service was adding some more goodies like providing a Blanket. The crew are courteous and really helpful. One female passenger on the bus fell sick while traveling. The crew quickly offered to stop the bus for her, in case she wanted to vomit. The conductor even had medicines to control emesis. The bus was clean and was pretty well kept. There were signs of a patch work on the rear side of the bus - which is perhaps a result of a minor accident. A very good product, overall, and recommended to passengers!


Sujith Bhakthan said…
hey, If the bus is not full, they ll go to all major bus stations to catch passengers. The bus number is RA101 Not 201. Nice to read your experince once again.

For u i think it took around 11.30 hours to reach alappuzha. The same day when i went to Thiruvalla by Deluxe RRC 966, we started 8.00 pm from madiwala and reached 8.15 am in alappuzha and 8.45 in Thiruvalla. We also entered salem, erode, cbe, plkd, tsr, ekm bus station. Then what is the difference b/w volvo and deluxe incase of speed? just 30-45 minutes difference? !!!!
Binai K Sankar said…
You started at 2000 from Madivala, and reached ALP at 0815 - that is 12h15m. My bus started from KBS at 1700 and reached ALP at 0515 (the driver dropped me at SD College, not Bus station at this time) - That is also 12h15m. My bus took one full hour to reach Madivala from KBS - so the effective run time is 11h15m. For this duration, I traveled in an Airconditioned box that is isolated from dust and grime, arriving fresh at the destination.

For the fare I paid, i very well feel that the ride and the time taken is justified... BTW, I don't take a Volvo for the speed, but for the comfort.
Unknown said…
the kerala KSRTC volvo bus staffs are bloody AHs...... they dnt knw how to behave properly.... try Karnataka Volvo once n feel the difference ..
Binai K Sankar said…
@Mahesh.. Disagreeing with you 1000%. While the Karnataka guys might be professional, they are a horrible lot to deal with - absolutely customer unfriendly and arrogant most of the times. On the other hand, the guys from Kerala respond immediately to requests, and most importantly, stick to the time table.
Unknown said…
Where will the bus stops in Madiwala?
Binai K Sankar said…
They stop at Madiwala - right outside St.Johns hospital gate
I have seen this Mahesh likes here in gulf too. They always tries hard to find a falult with keralites, incl KSRTC, AIR INDIA etc.
for me simply nothing better than what we have in Kerala. KSRTC is one of the best with its own quality standards. Trust me, I am confident to send my mother, or sisters in a KSRTC alone, but in no other PTC in India. I have experiencd almost all indian state RTCs.
Mahesh, you better Keep away from Kerala buses.Its only for us!.
I am proud of the my white elephants.
Unknown said…
Hey Binai, I'm new to Bangalore and don't know the exact madiwala stop. I know the BMTC bus stop next to the petrol bunk. Now where exactly does the KSRTC bus stop. I am planning to travel by that bus and don't want to miss the bus waiting some place far from where the bus actually stops. Any help would be appreciated.
Binai K Sankar said…
The pick up point at Madivala is right outside to St. John's hospital. You may stand at the BMTC bus stop.
Rea said…
Description Garuda Airavat
Both Via Salem
Full Fare (Including Res) 840 815
Child Fare NA 560
Blanket NA Yes
Mineral Water NA Yes
TV Ordinary LCD
Fare From KLM To BGLR 840 789
Fare From Alp To BGLR 840 727