Monday, 30 July 2012

My First Journey in VRL B9R

Date: 23/6/2012
Route: Mumbai to Mangalore
Operator : VRL
Regn Number: KA 25 D1400

About a month ago my friend invited me to Mangalore to attend his bachelor's party however, two weeks ago I was informed at my office to visit Mumbai to undergo a training session. I'd to do a lot of thinking on whether to visit Mangalore or to cancel my visit as my last day of work in Mumbai was on 22nd June and the party scheduled on 24th June. I discussed the same with my friend's and upon lot of insistence from my friends I decided to visit Mangalore from Mumbai. Thus began my bus hunting session. I knew there were many reputed operators such as Canara Pinto, Anand, VRL, Neeta, Southern Tourist, KSRTC who operate regular buses to Mangalore.

Initially I thought of taking Canara Pinto which leaves Mumbai around 12:30pm on Saturday. However i was also meeting a friend in Mumbai and he asked me to spend a day with him at Mumbai. Finally with all the confusion I was left with either Neeta, Southern Tourist and VRL which by the way departs 2:30pm, 3pm and 5:30pm respectively. I have heard some real bad reviews about Neeta and did not want to risk booking my tickets on it. Tried booking for Southern but only the last row seats were available. Checked in VRL and finally got lucky and booked a window seat.

An hour before my pickup from Dahisar, I got a message from VRL informing me about the regn number of the bus. Reached the boarding point just minutes before the departure. All thanks to the autowallahs in Mumbai. I was refused by almost 10 guys before getting lucky. Anyways I waited for almost 10minutes and finally she showed up.

The bus was brand new, could see the covers still on few seats, leather seats with a combination of maroon and white, pleasant interiors and the temp inside the bus was also very cool. The bus had done around 40000kms on the odo. The crew including the cleaner were uniformed. I was carrying a heavy backpack which had my laptop, camera to name a few. I was worried to stash my luggage at the belly hence got it on board and was thinking whether she would make it inside the overhead carrier and to my surprise she did it with ease.

I was the only pick up at that point and my friend had come to see me off. I got inside and requested the driver if he could drop my friend off to Kandivali, which by the way is just few stops from Dahisar. The driver strictly refused and started to drive. The bus had come in from Borivali (W) and had around 5 passengers sitting at their seats. I settled down and looked outside the window while the bus was crawling near Andheri and fell into a power nap. When I woke up the bus was still in Sion and had stopped to pick up few passengers. A lady at the door was arguing with the driver for coming in late and she had to wait for almost 30mins. The crew were very polite and apologized to the lady saying they were caught up in traffic. Again I slipped back into a nap and when I woke up the bus was in Chembur and was going around in circles.The bus had to pickup some parcels and passengers here but since it's a busy junctions, cops wont allow any pvt operators to pick up passengers at the point. Though the passengers boarded the bus, the parcels had not arrived yet. Hence the bus was being driven around a circle for almost 5 times wasting fuel and time by the time we completed the 5th round of circling the parcels had arrived and the bus pulled over at the side and the parcels were loaded. A traffic cop was noticing this all the while came running and warned our bus driver to move.

Finally the bus crawled out of Mumbai and reached Navi Mumbai where a checking agent from VRL came inside the bus with the passenger list, ensured if everyone was on board and got off the bus. The bus took the expressway and stopped at a food mall for dinner at 8:30pm The dinner halt was brief and after the dinner the bus which was crawling on Mumbai's crowded streets unleashed it's power. The driving was very sedate, no risky maneuvers, no harsh braking or overspeeding. The bus was constantly driven at 95kmph and very occasionally touched a three figure mark. The fastest being 117kmph showed by the GPS on my cellphone. After a couple of minutes we caught up with a Neeta Multi Axle Merc Benz and she was trying her best to stay ahead but our monster showed no respite and overtook her after which I never saw her again. We reached Pune by 11:30pm while few passengers got down and few more boarded the bus. An old bollywood flick was being shown on the screens and the moment it got over the cleaner came over closed down the screen and I slipped into a deep sleep.

The next thing I remember was when the cleaner came back and woke us all up stating the bus will be stopping for refreshment and Breakfast. I woke up and saw the time and it was 7:30am. Got down from the bus and asked the watchman about our whereabouts. He told me that we were in Ankola. The bus had covered around 540kms in 8hrs and that was some impressive driving. It was also my longest sleep in a bus. The bus was halted for almost 30mins while the passengers got freshened up and had breakfast.

The bus again departed by 8:05am and was driven amazingly well on the highway with speeds of 60-65kmph on a two lane highway. I got up and walked over to the front to enjoy the beautiful view of the Marvanthe Beach on the right and the back waters on the left. Soon after this the bus reached Kundapur followed by Udupi where almost all the passengers got down. The bus dropped me off at Lalbagh junction at 12:30pm. Overall an amazing journey and the best part of it was I never felt tired and headed out to my friend's place to enjoy a great party.

Attached are few pics I took when the bus stopped for breakfast at Kamat Restaurant.

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