January 20, 2021:
After my work finished, I headed straight to the City bus station in Mysuru - then walked down to Guru Sweet mart nearby to pick-up some authentic Mysore Pak. I was quite tired and famished - I hadn't had my lunch yet. I had originally planned to walk to the suburban bus station - then changed my mind, and hired an autorickshaw instead. My first stop after getting to the suburban bus station was a restaurant outside, for lunch.
While traveling to the bus station in the autorickshaw, I quickly checked train ticket availability - I was really confused. I was really hungry, and decided to have my lunch first. After completing a South Indian Ootta, I headed off to the bus station to first look at buses and then look for trains. I was quite tired, and badly wanted to get into a bus and doze off for a while. There was a fairly long line of buses lined up to depart to Bengaluru. I quickly checked for trains - there was one at a convenient time, but the chart status showed 'Train departed' already - and the railways aren't issuing unreserved tickets either. I was a little confused if I must book a later train, or just get into a bus.
While looking around, a bus to Bengaluru came in, and the conductor announced that they would depart immediately. It been almost a year since I traveled in a multi-axle bus - the last time I traveled in a multi-axle seater coach was in January 2020 (read here) and multi-axle sleeper in February 2020 (read here). I didn't want to travel to the station again and complicate things further - just got into this bus without another thought.
I was on board KA-57-F-1146 of Bengaluru Central Division's Depot-4 aka the "Volvo Depot". The bus was returning from Ooty to Bengaluru - the occupancy was good - about 60% occupied. I wasn't really looking forward to ride in a bus from this particular depot - although they keep their buses in excellent shape, the drivers specialize in driving slow! I was too tired to wait for the next bus to Bengaluru - I took the first row seat with the intention of capturing some videos.
The bus got moving from Mysuru bus station at 1555hrs. The conductor tried getting some more passengers as the bus started crawling out - he did succeed in getting some more people on board. The conductor went around to issue tickets, while the driver slowly negotiated the 13.7m long bus out of Mysuru city. As the bus reached the outer limits of the city - the crew changed positions, and the conductor took over the driving position. The driver went to take some rest. This particular bus operates a night time service from Bengaluru to Ooty - and returns as a day time service. The crew remain at the steering for about 8 hours on the outbound - have a 5-6 hours rest (traffic depending), and then have a 8-9 hour steering duty back. This means the crew need to coordinate between themselves and adjust their rest times.
My personal experience always has been that Conductors are good drivers - they are usually faster and have great skills - this person didn't seem different. He was fast from the word go. The engine seemed to be a little tired - it struggled to start from stop, and quite a lot of times ended up cutting off the AC compressor. Traffic was on the higher side as well - with more people working from home, it seemed like people are traveling to tourist spots during weekdays as well! There were too many cars on road, and this slowed the bus. To add to the hurdles, work on 6-laning of the highway is also progressing at a good pace - there were plenty of diversions, and this slows the journey further.
|The bus: KA-57-F-1146
The biggest problem makers on the road seemed to be private cars - they brake hard as they reach a diversion, and cut across lanes like they drive in racing circuits. The bus, being long, always needs to enter and exit diversions taking long turns - cars try to squeeze through as the bus does this. This meant a lot of hard braking, and sweeping turns. The driver appeared a little rash - he had to maintain pace, since the engine really struggled to pick pace, and the diversions meant they had to reduce speed quite often. The driver had to maintain pace - private cars wouldn't allow him do that, though!
After some pushing around, the bus pulled over into the refreshment break point in Maddur at 1713hrs. The driver.. er.. the Conductor, announced that the break would be short and requested all passenger to return soon. This place is an exclusive point for Karnataka RTC buses - located right opposite the Maddur KSRTC bus terminal. There is a restaurant, restrooms and some smaller stalls selling the famed Maddur vade, tender coconuts and sugarcane juice. I was too full - and tired - didn't eat anything. A few more passengers joined here - departed from here at 1726hrs - a 13 minute halt.
The conductor was still at the wheels - he continued pushing the bus. Traffic on the road thickened and thickened as we got closer to Bengaluru. There was terrible traffic in Channapatna as well as Ramanagara. Things got worse as we passed Bidadi. Traffic came to a standstill at many places - crawling at other places. The frustration was evident - the crew just wanted to get back to Bengaluru. We got to Satellite bus station, on Mysore road, at 1934hrs - quickly dropped passengers and got moving by 1936hrs. I was expecting worse traffic as we entered Bengaluru city - perhaps, luck favored, and we had lesser than usual traffic on the way. We finally got to Shantinagar bus station at 2003hrs - 4 hours and 8 minutes after we started from Mysore!
Charging Point: Available, Did not use.
Entertainment: Available, not used.
Cleanliness: 3/5 [Lack of cooperation from passenger to be blamed]
Driving: 3/5 [Was rash]
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Pros: Frequency of buses
Cons: Everything else
Will I take this service again? You have no other options on this route!