Trivandrum to Bangalore by Orange Travels Scania

Monday being a holiday in Bangalore meant that almost all options for traveling from Trivandrum to Bangalore on Monday evening were, either sold out, or were selling at exhorbitant rates. State buses were sold out as well. After a bit of searching around, I narrowed down to two options - the cheaper among the two had an early departure, which I wanted to avoid. I finally opted for Orange Travels. The seats available were towards the rear end of the bus - left with not many choices, I took a decision quickly and booked a window seat on the right side.

September 05, 2016:
It was quite a busy day - personal and official woherk intertwined with each other. It was almost 1800hrs by the time I got free. Had to hurry with getting ready for the return trip - I had to have my dinner as well, since my ticket screamed out "No Dinner Break". My friends were waiting for me at the hotel lobby - we all headed out together for a quick dinner, and one of them dropped me at the pick-up point for my bus as well. I had already received the tracking information for my bus already. I found that my bus was nearby from the tracking site.
The bus - KA-01-AF-5531 @ Trivandrum
The bus arrived at the pick-up point exactly at 2028hrs - two minutes before the scheduled time. The pick-up point, Music College Jn, is a mess with narrow roads, and all these buses hogging the roads. The driver of my bus, KA-01-AF-5531, barely managed to find space to park. Boarding started immediately - and was very brisk. Tickets were verified fast, and luggage was tagged and stacked according to the place where the passenger intends to alight. Boarding was completed, and we got moving by 2043hrs - 13 minutes late. The driver was fast from the word go.

Blankets were already kept on the seat, and water bottles were kept in bottle holders. A little after the bus started, the attendant came around with the snack boxes. The leg room seemed very less - I was kinda stuck as soon as the passenger ahead of me pushed back his seat. Leg space was surely a premium here. We made quick pick-ups at Balaramapuram (2111) and Neyyattinkara (2124), finally passing Kaliykkavilai at 2144hrs. We reached Marthandam by 2157hrs - boarding was completed by 2201hrs, and we got moving. We still had about 10 seats or so to be taken. We reached Nagercoil by 2240hrs - all the seats, including the one next to me, were filled here.

We got moving from Nagercoil at 2247hrs. I was hoping for a non-stop ride from there, and tried finding out a position to sleep. I was too tired due to the heat, and fell asleep instantly. But that wasn't for too long. The bus pulled into a fuel station at Panagudi, just past Kavalkinaru, for refueling at 2311hrs. Almost all the passengers got out of the bus to use the washrooms - the fuel station had clean washrooms. I got back to my seat and got ready to sleep. We started from the fuel station at 2320hrs. I was quite shocked when the bus pulled into the hotel next compound, and the crew announce a dinner break! I was annoyed now - we were already behind schedule, and the website screamed the bus wouldn't stop for dinner, and now they waste time stopping for dinner! We stayed put till 2348hrs, and then got moving. Now, it was highly impossible to make it to Bangalore on time, unless the driver did a non-stop stellar run.

I tried sleeping, but the congested seating was making me very claustrophobic. I tried adjusting my position - but did not help. I finally pushed down the calf rest, this gave some moving space for my legs. The exhaustion got me, and I dozed off in no time. I woke up momentarily as the bus stopped at Krishnagiri toll. Slept for some more time. I woke up just as the bus pulled into a fuel station near Shoolagiri, at around 0714hrs. We were terribly late already - and there comes the second fuel break! We started from there at 0725. We came to a complete standstill as we passed Hosur. Some updates on a WhatsApp group confirmed that there was a standoff between Tamilnadu and Karnataka over the Cauvery water dispute. The driver took the service road and escaped the traffic on the mainroad for some distance. Roads were closed off near the TN RTO checkpost (Zuzuwadi), and we were forced to take a diversion.

The bus was diverted to the Inner ring road, and we had to take the road via TVS to get to Attibele. Those roads were jammed as well. I dozed off again as we made very slow progress towards Bangalore. I woke up just as the crew shouted out for Attibele passengers - we were parked on the roadside below Attibele flyover now. Quite some people got off, and we started at 0922. Traffic was slightly on the higher side, but we managed to reach Electronic City by 0935hrs. After a crawl at the BETL toll, and dropping passengers after the toll gate, we got on to the flyover by 0942hrs. The bus rushed through the flyover. I got off my seat and headed to the cabin since I needed to get off at Silkboard. The bus stopped short of Silkboard flyover by 0950hrs. Attendant verified the luggage tags before handing over the bag - really liked this professionalism.

What followed next was a classic robbery by an Auto Pirate with his rigged autometer that recorded twice the actual distance - careful guys, stick to an Ola/Uber, or at the worst a Meru, and don't fall for the Meter charge wonly saar trick of auto pirates at Silkboard. Their meters run faster than the auto itself.

Remarks: The bus, KA-01-AF-5531, had about 85K on the odo. The crew, as such, were very well behaved. They spoke very calm and politely to passengers. Driving was good as well - they did some serious speeds at night for sure. I do not appreciate two fuel breaks and an unwarranted dinner break in the middle of the night as well. We lost no less than 45 minutes all these breaks put together. The seating space is terrible - hardly any legroom, and it felt really claustrophobic being in the seat. The leg room is surely a deal-breaker for me. Another real concern I had was the plastic bags they used to pack those blankets - they used the thinnest variety of plastic bags. All those bags contribute to the garbage burden. I'd be happier if they used some better variety reusable bags to pack the blankets, or atleast paper bags. The drivers honked a lot - which is again not acceptable, especially at night.

Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: Yes
Charging Point: Available, On throughout night
Entertainment: Available, movies played.

Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 2.5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Pros: Driving, Cleanliness, Snack box
Cons: Timings, Unwanted breaks, Terrible leg room

Will I take this service again? Only if I get a first row seat, or if I have no choice. The service is great though, and will recommend people who are not bothered of the legroom.