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Old 14th May 2009, 01:10   #106
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A little bit of nostalgia on long distance private bus travel.

I first started using long distance private operators way back in the late 1980s. Computerised reservations on Indian Railways were only just coming in (I think Trivandrum was computerised only in 89 or 90), and there were very limited berths on trains as it was split to quotas for about 20-30 enroute stations. Tickets werre normal card tickets plus a separate card ticket for the reservation charge. All your details were written painfully in longhand on the reservation register .No Konkan railway as well, so to go to Pune from Cochin one was stuck with Jayanthi Janatha for which you needed to book two months in advance.

Used to go to Pune to my relatives place once an year for my college hols . But my university's exam calendar was even more notorious for o delays than Indian Railways, so booking in advance was out of the question.

There were no Low Cost Airlines (or even any other domestic airlines other than Indian Airlines) during those times, so flights were horribly expensive and out of the question. The ones to come to my rescue for people like me who needed tickets at short notice were private operators like Sharma Travels, NS-RPD (Long gone) , SB travels or Indira Travels . I used to take Sharma travels who had a "through bus" service to Pune/Mumbai from Cochin and it was not too bad. One departed around 6 PM from EKM outside Grand Hotel (no Volvos then - but buses were 2 x 2 with reclining seats) and it used to reach BLR at around 7 AM, "the connection bus" was at 0830. Since they were selling through tickets to Pune/Mumbai what it meant was that this "connection" bus would wait for you if your bus got delayed as there were lots of Ernakulam-Mumbai pax (No Konkan railway/no international flights from Cochin and or Calicut). Ofcourse no Pune-Mumbai expressway nor was the Katraj byepass ready. So you landed up at Swargate (Hotel Natraj) between 3 Am - 4 AM.

32-34 hours end to end Ernakulam-Pune. And Sharma did have a sort of "transit lounge" at their office in Kalassipalayam where "connecting pax" could freshen up.

There werre other operators also as i mentioned offering similar services but since my first experience with Sharma was okay , I stuck with them for the 3-4 years I was taking my annual holidays in Pune.

After a long break I used Sharma recently. One thing I should say, their office staff atleast maintains the same level of professionalism. They now have computerised reservation and the bus I travelled this time around was a 2 X 1 non ac which was not too bad.

About a decade back I also used to commute regualrly between Chennai and Trivandrum. The operator was Rathimeena travels , again non AC buses but it used to do the Trivandrum Chennai run comfortably in 16 hours! Not too sure whether these guys are around now!
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Old 14th May 2009, 09:28   #107
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^Wasn't there akbar travels cochin/tvm -bombay service via mangalore at those times?
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Old 14th May 2009, 10:51   #108
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The ones to come to my rescue for people like me who needed tickets at short notice were private operators like Sharma Travels, NS-RPD (Long gone) , SB travels or Indira Travels . I used to take Sharma travels who had a "through bus" service to Pune/Mumbai from Cochin and it was not too bad. One departed around 6 PM from EKM outside Grand Hotel (no Volvos then - but buses were 2 x 2 with reclining seats) and it used to reach BLR at around 7 AM, "the connection bus" was at 0830. Since they were selling through tickets to Pune/Mumbai what it meant was that this "connection" bus would wait for you if your bus got delayed as there were lots of Ernakulam-Mumbai pax (No Konkan railway/no international flights from Cochin and or Calicut). Ofcourse no Pune-Mumbai expressway nor was the Katraj byepass ready. So you landed up at Swargate (Hotel Natraj) between 3 Am - 4 AM.
96-97 I used to tour every month Kerala & South Canara as part of my work. I used to do Kerala North of Ernakulam one Month and Kerala South of Ernakulam one month. During this time invariably I used to catch the Aashirwad travels which used to ply between Ernakulam & Manipal to go to Mangalore. There used to be a lot of passengers who used to change buses to go to Goa / Mumbai from Mangalore. I remember once the bus broke down somewhere near Kottakkal and ended up reaching Mangalore at 1 in the afternoon.

During that period you had KPN operating a few services to Salem & Bangalore, NS & Conti operating to Coimbatore, Aashirwad operating to Chennai, Manipal & Coimbatore, Sharma to Bangalore, Supaa & No.1 Air to Coimbatore. Ofcourse Puzhakadavil used to operate out of Ensign.

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About a decade back I also used to commute regualrly between Chennai and Trivandrum. The operator was Rathimeena travels , again non AC buses but it used to do the Trivandrum Chennai run comfortably in 16 hours! Not too sure whether these guys are around now!
Rathimeena are certainly still plying and are reasonably big these days. When ever I used to do South Kerala, I used to take the 3.30 PM RAthimeena from Chennai to reach Trivandrum early in the morning. In one instance we reached Trivandrum at 5.30 in the morning covering the distance in just 14 hours.

The only time I did not take the Rathimeena to Trivandrum was when I took the JJTC as it was called then. I booked myself in the 1st A/c bus of the day, on reaching the bus stand realised that instead the 2 A/c services have been clubbed to only 1 service for the day. Ended up getting a seat which did not recline fully, the A/c not working because of a slipping belt which meant repairs at Tambaram & Trichy. The early morning next day brought us one more problem, the bus rammed into one of the barricades at a checkpost meant to prevent LTTE movement. A half an hour's argument with the police meant we finally reached Trivandrum at 12.00 in the afternoon, full 24 hours from the time I reached the bus stand at Chennai.

Last edited by pypkmsrikanth : 14th May 2009 at 10:55.
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Old 14th May 2009, 12:35   #109
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The only time I did not take the Rathimeena to Trivandrum was when I took the JJTC as it was called then. I booked myself in the 1st A/c bus of the day, on reaching the bus stand realised that instead the 2 A/c services have been clubbed to only 1 service for the day. Ended up getting a seat which did not recline fully, the A/c not working because of a slipping belt which meant repairs at Tambaram & Trichy. The early morning next day brought us one more problem, the bus rammed into one of the barricades at a checkpost meant to prevent LTTE movement. A half an hour's argument with the police meant we finally reached Trivandrum at 12.00 in the afternoon, full 24 hours from the time I reached the bus stand at Chennai.
TNSETC (the company which used to work as JJTC and TTC earlier) seems to be no better now. Earlier TTC used to be a nice company with better looking buses and somewhat timely service. They used to be fast and service better.

The same dinosaur age buses are continuing even today, and with absolutely horrible services. It took about 12 hours for a TNSETC bus to reach Bangalore from Coimbatore! The bus left CBE at 2100, and reached only Madiwala at 0930 the next morning! At the same time, a KaSRTC Volvo left CBE at 2300 and was at Madiwala at 0530 the next morning!

The maintenance of SETC is no better... mangled pieces of metal put together to make a tin box... and hand painted with unimaginative colours :(
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Old 14th May 2009, 13:54   #110
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The current SETC over the last 2 years has replaced a lot of old buses, most of the buses are now Air Suspensioned coaches with a fair amount of A/c coaches built on 12M ALL chasis. The same is the scene with most TNSTC,in fact I would go to say that its the TN Government which is partially the reason for ALL to see some good numbers in last financial year as they were the biggest customer of ALL for last year.
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Old 23rd May 2009, 11:55   #111
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Finally I took Kerala SRTC from Bangalore in their TATA GLOBUS service to Trichur. Well all I can say is that this will the first of many more trips.

Full graphic description has been given by Binaiks in his earlier posts, and I have little more to add. Started on time, reached haf an hour ahead of scheduled time and just 10 hours from Bangalore to Trichur(very impreesive sice this is a 730 PM departure from Majestic in rush hour traffic. Driving was fantastic, airconditioning is really powerful and no time wasting. I had to continue to Alwaye and beyond (two more onward trips) and an early arrival meant that I was at home by 7.30 AM escaping the rush hour traffic. And with fares a whopping 20% cheaper than the Airavaths. this is simply the best deal currently between Bangalore and Trichur.

And dont I love the fact I am travelling in a bus whose only objective is to carry pssengers ,and not on something which carries passengers as a "fringe benefit " to the cargo above and below the seats!!!!
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Old 23rd May 2009, 21:55   #112
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TKMCE, Good to know that your trip was good. How was the seating? Were leg room and shoulder room adequate? Did the bus get into all *major* bus stands enroute?
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Old 24th May 2009, 11:42   #113
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TKMCE, Good to know that your trip was good. How was the seating? Were leg room and shoulder room adequate? Did the bus get into all *major* bus stands enroute?
I have tired them too, but the drivers are rash and the AC is generally on a high mode where you start shivering. Otherwise things are ok.

Again they drive as if they cant see any bumps or pot holes, so lots of cabin noise in bus due to poor maintainance.

Only good thing is they reach the destination ahead of the schedule.
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Old 25th May 2009, 09:30   #114
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I have tired them too, but the drivers are rash and the AC is generally on a high mode where you start shivering. Otherwise things are ok.
I wouldn't call them rash. I travel in KeSRTC Globuses every month, and every time I noticed that they were "fast" but not rash. They drive at a very high speed, but never make rash turns or overtakes. I think there is quite a difference between rash and fast.

The AC has a very rudimentary control system. The Driver cannot choose the temperature and hence the AC ends up turning the coach into a deep freezer at time. I carry a bedsheet with me, so that I don't end up shivering

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Again they drive as if they cant see any bumps or pot holes, so lots of cabin noise in bus due to poor maintainance.
The cabin noise is not due to poor maintenance, but the body has a very poor quality. The body made all these squeaks and rattles even when the bus was just three months old. The body quality is really bad, and the panels are put together very bad.

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Only good thing is they reach the destination ahead of the schedule.
That is a huge advantage, isn't it? As long as the driver is not rash, speeding is not a problem.
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Old 25th May 2009, 11:31   #115
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May be all are not rash. I have only travelled once in KL SRTC A/c, and the driver was too rash. I did not sleep all night just watching through out the drive the way the driver was driving. I had travelled the same month as they launched. And new bus with plastic cover still on seat covers had heavy rattling sounds.

Worst was they switched off the A/c after hosur and never bothered to switch it on till Bangalore.

I used to prefer Shama Volvo Gold class, it used to be a neatly maintained bus with nice interiors. But again rash driving.

Atlast i have switched over to my car. No more bus or train, Drive when you want and take rest when you want.

Last edited by srikant : 25th May 2009 at 11:32.
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Old 25th May 2009, 11:45   #116
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I was fully awake on the last stretch from Palghat to Trichur. The way the driver was overtaking truck traffic on the difficult stretches on ths route (after Alathur), I got the impression that the guy was a regular on the stretch and knew the road very well. Also I believe these guys have adequate rest (as the bus and crew which reaches at 6 Am in the morning at BLR is the on ewhich leves at 1930).

I am now travelling in long distance buses for more than 25 years and this experience was something similar to the excellent service TTC (the predcessor to RGTC/JJTC) had in its hey days long ago.
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Old 25th May 2009, 11:47   #117
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Agreed one is at one's own liberty about time, duration and places of breaks. But Srikant do you undertake overnight journeys in your car? If not, that's the disadvantage of driving one's own car. Another flip side, at least to me, is that trucks and buses (usually) care a damn for cars (unless you drive a Land cruiser, Sumo kinda vehicles). I always drive loving especially the long-drives. But, the 'might-is-right' driving of the heavy-vehicles made me reluctantly decide to travel by bus / train for long distances.
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Old 26th May 2009, 11:53   #118
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Quote:
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Agreed one is at one's own liberty about time, duration and places of breaks. But Srikant do you undertake overnight journeys in your car? If not, that's the disadvantage of driving one's own car. Another flip side, at least to me, is that trucks and buses (usually) care a damn for cars (unless you drive a Land cruiser, Sumo kinda vehicles). I always drive loving especially the long-drives. But, the 'might-is-right' driving of the heavy-vehicles made me reluctantly decide to travel by bus / train for long distances.
I never do night drives unless really urgent. Cos most of the time i am alone driving with no company. I dont consider it safe to drive at night alone.

I generally leave early morning 3am and reach Bangy by 10-10.30 am which is as good as getting a full day in Bangalore. Even if you travel by a bus or train, by the time you reach your accommodation and get fresh it will be around the same time 10am. So i dont have to do overnight driving and also get to the place safe.

Drive cool man, and you dont have to bother about mightier buses and trucks. Just forgive them, dont take any tension. Thats my rule.

Last edited by srikant : 26th May 2009 at 11:54.
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Old 20th June 2009, 20:47   #119
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I was "on the road" continuously over the past two weekends. The rides included a Kallada B9R and about four KSRTC (Karnataka) Volvos. The Kallada B9R experience was my first on a B9R, and I was overall impressed with the monster.

The bus was working an Alappuzha-Bangalore schedule. I boarded it at Thrissur and got off at Madiwala. The bus was less than 50% full (but had loads of cargo to make money for the operator), and I was free to choose my seat. (I gladly took the 11th row - out of 12 - and got two seats all for myself). The driver was kind-of crazy, and he was driving the engine in low gears for long durations.

The Karnataka SRTC experience was a mixed bag. In the first two journeys, the bus and the driver were the same. I traveled in the same bus on Saturday from Bangalore to Chennai (left Bangalore at 1430, and arrived CMBT-Chennai at 2100) and on Sunday from Chennai (dep 2320) and arrived Bangalore (Bommanahalli at 0430). In the outbound journey, the driver was too slow, while on the return the same driver was blasting through.

The Third one - it was from Mangalore to Bangalore on a KSRTC Airavat. The bus was damn old and was badly kept. I could hear rattles from the front axle clearly inside the bus and the poor bus was struggling at every grade.

The fourth one takes the cake - this was on a brand new Volvo 9400 of Ka SRTC. The bus started from Bangalore late by a full 30 minutes (remember that Bangalore is their base - the bus was started from their depot when it was time for departure from the bus station). It arrived Thrissur late by a full two hours. The bus was heading to Trivandrum on a Friday evening - still we had about 15 vacant seats!!! And what applied salt to my wounds was the fact that the Kerala SRTC Globus which started from Bangalore only at 1930 (thirty minutes after my bus left Bangalore) was already standing at Thrissur when I reached! I paid about 150 Rs more, only to travel longer time in a Volvo!!!

All these taught me one lesson - stick as much as possible to a Kerala SRTC service. Their punctuality is mind-boggling!!! To support my fact, I recently had a ride on their Super Fast bus from Trivandrum to Alappuzha - the guy did the 150-odd kilometre journey in just 3 hours and 40 minutes - in this journey, the bus also entered as many as 6 bus stations not including my origin and destination!!! His scheduled arrival time at Alappuzha was 1815, and he was already there at 1800!!!
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Old 21st June 2009, 01:20   #120
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some KSRTC routes like from Muvattupuzha-thrissur ,most KSRTC(kerala) Buses will make sure it take 2.15 hours minimum.during 1995-96 ,This same route was covered under 1.45 hours and no halts in between at perumbavoor or angamaly for majority of the services.
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