APSRTC Amaravati: Bengaluru to Nellore

One hot day in Kerala, sometime past noon - I receive a call from an unknown number - the caller identifies himself as a faculty member at a Pharmacy college in the coastal Andhra Pradesh town of Nellore. The call was to invite me as a resource person at a national conference organised by the college. After due clarifications, I accept the offer. A few days pass without much movement - and about a week later, the official invitation arrives in my mail box. I did not book tickets until a few days before the event - the host at the institution in Nellore followed up duly to ensure I booked my tickets, and he confirmed my arrival time at Nellore. I badly wanted to try APSRTC - their fares were the highest on the route - almost twice the fares charged by private operators. After dilly-dallying for a few days further, I finally book my ticket on the APSRTC Amaravati departing Bengaluru at night.

March 08, 2018:
I was laid back - the bus leaves only at 2300hrs. I had a very relaxed dinner from home, and slowly moved out by around 2100hrs. I took a bus to the nearest metro station - the station was deserted - the security staff went about doing their job lazily. I lugged myself to the platform - to find a 14 minute wait for the next train! With peak hours completing, frequency was down. A while into waiting, an empty rake heading to the carshed arrived - stopped on the platform - almost every passenger on the platform hurried towards the train - the security staff were on a frenzy blowing their whistles and calling out that the train wouldn't "go". A little later the train speeds away towards the carshed (Peenya Depot). My train arrives a few minutes later - the train was empty - deserted, rather. The train got me to Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Station - Majestic in a little over 25 minutes.

A long walk later, I was in Terminal 1 of Kempegowda Bus Station. The terminal was chocked - every possible inch was occupied by buses departing to different parts of Karnataka and towards Andhra Pradesh. There was no sign of my bus anywhere near the platforms, while two non-AC buses headed towards Tirupati were parked nearby. My bus to Nellore arrived at the platform a little past 2235hrs - he struggled a bit to get the bus to the platform though. The driver headed to the reservation counter to get the reservation chart, and he began checking tickets. Boarding was very slow - we had over 20 minutes to go. The legroom was huge, and the seat felt very comfortable. It took me a while to realise that the seat did not have a calf rest. The bus had 49 seats, thus offering great leg room. Disposable headrest covers were used, and blankets, neatly kept in plastic bags, were placed on all the seats.

All reserved passengers were in before 2300hrs - the driver called up a couple of passengers who were to board there, but later informed the change of their boarding point. We got moving by 2305hrs - but the block inside the bus station meant we were out only by 2311hrs. Traffic on the road outside was low - we progressed quite fast, and were in Ulsoor by 2327hrs - a few more passengers joined, and we continued. The next stop was at Krishnarajapuram - 2342hrs. There was a confusion regarding two passengers - they hadn't received ticket message, but their names were on the reservation chart. However, the driver-cum-conductor wouldn't start unless they produced their ticket - he advised them to call up their call centre - who did assist them by re-sending the ticket message.
The bus, after dropping me at Nellore..

With all the confusion cleared, we got moving by 2353hrs. A little after started moving, the attendant came around distributing water bottles, and took away all the unused blankets. I noticed at this time that the bus had a single driver-cum-conductor and an attendant. The driver wasn't fast - he maintained speed in the 75-80kmph range. I remained awake till we passed Hoskote - the sleep got the better of my by then. The good leg room meant I could find a comfortable pose quickly - I fell asleep in no time. I vaguely remember the crew calling out Tirupati, and the lights were on - I just remember pulling the blanket over my face and continuing my sleep.

I was woken up as the lights came on again - but this time I woke up only as the bus was pulling out of Nayadupeta bus station (0529hrs) - I continued sleep again. I slept for another 45 minutes or so, and woke up just as we neared Nellore. GMaps showed we were at a place called Venkatachalam - about 15 kilometres or so short of Nellore. It was foggy - visibility was poor, and the driver was going slow. I remained glued to the map since I needed to get off the bus before the town - I informed the attendant to intimate me about the stop. I finally got off at Ayyappagudi, at 0638hrs - the bus would've easily made it to the bus station well before 0700hrs, the scheduled arrival time!

Remarks: The bus, AP-26-Z-0225, of Nellore-2 depot had clocked about 5.30 Lakh kilometres, and appeared quite well kept. There were occasional rattles - but not intrusive or disturbing. The bus was clean inside out - the interiors appeared fresh, and the disposable head-rest covers were a great addition. The crew were great - handled passengers really well. All requests were answered to very politely. The driver spoke very politely even during the ticket issue with one passenger at KR Puram. The issue was handled very politely, in a non-threatening environment. The bus departed a few minutes behind schedule, but was perfectly on time (or before time) at arrival. Amazing driving - absolutely no honking at night, no hard breaks or rash overtakes. Slept like a baby through the journey - but without the engine lugging that is common with Karnataka RTC. Perfect service from the crew. The fares were high - almost two hundred rupees more than the other STU operating on the route. Except the fare, the service checked all the boxes!

Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, did not use.
Entertainment: Available, not used.

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

Overall: 5/5

Pros: Timings, Crew
Cons: Expensive - really expensive!

Will I take this service again? Perfect option - better if they reduce the fare a bit. 


Sunup said…
High fares in APSRTC and KeSRTC would definitely take a toll in the long run. Already weekday occupancy levels are very low in KeSRTC Volvos and Scanias since their fares are way higher than KaSRTC and private operators.