Saturday, 27 September 2014

Mumbai to Mangalore In Canara Pinto B9R

Mumbai to Mangalore In Canara Pinto B9R

Date of Journey: 27/09/2014
Service: Canara Pinto Travels
Distance: 930kms(appox)
Fare: 1100/-

Mumbai, a city known to never sleep, a city with a spirit of gold and a determination to never say die. It was around 8:30am on a Friday morning when my plans to visit Mangalore was confirmed. While the rest of the city was buzzing with activity, me on the other hand reluctantly decided to is it Mangalore upon my friend’s request.

Mumbai and Mangalore are very well connected with private operators running multiple schedules with buses of all types. Selecting a service is a difficult ordeal as most of these operators are well known for their service. Finally after an hour I made up mind, it was indeed Canara Pinto.
Canara Pinto is a very well known operator operating daily schedules between Mangalore and Mumbai Having tried this operator last year I was very much impressed by their service, timing and crew behavior. Also adding to the fact that they added a new set of buses few months ago was an icing on the cake which made me choose CPT. I booked a window seat (as always) and eagerly waited for the day

D- Day

Yes, it was the day that I was eagerly looking for. After enjoying a scrumptious lunch, my friend dropped me to Borivali. It was 14:50hrs and I had a good 25minutes for the bus to show up. Many buses bound to Pune and Bangalore came by picking up passengers for their respective destination. In the distance, I spotted Scania with the crew whom I knew very well. I decided to have a quick chat with them and while I was speaking with them exactly at 15:10hrs, my bus showed up.

Time has come to fall in love with Volvo again.

The bus pulled over near Gokul hotel and the pickup man started to call out for Mangalore bound passengers. I bid adieu to the Scania crew and headed over to my bus. The pickup man checked me in and exactly at 15:15hrs, we were on the move. The bus was very well maintained. Clean curtain and seat covers welcomed passengers. I made my way to the rear of the bus and settled down as the bus headed towards National Park, Borivali. The engine noise was minimal but still musical. 
The bus was running full with almost 90% of passengers boarding in Mumbai while the rest in Pune. Traffic was minimal as the bus powered ahead towards its pickup points. We quickly crossed Andheri and headed towards Chembur. Most of the passengers were boarding the bus from this point. After a 15minutes stop and with all passengers on board we headed towards Vashi. We pulled over a quick break before Vashi toll naka.

The break was brief and finally it was time to head towards home. The bus was easily notching up speeds upto 80-85kmph and very rarely crossed 95kmph. The engine noise was smooth and the transmission was perfect. Leg space inside the bus was not an issue and with the a/c set at the right temperature, I was all set to enjoy a comfortable ride to Mangalore. I had heard a lot of comments about the build quality of Volvo and noticed for any rattling noise inside the bus. To my surprise I could not hear anything even when the bus went on the rough patches. We were cruising on the expressway and as we headed towards Pune the sun began to set in the distant background.

Traffic  is Terrific

We were welcomed by a traffic jam in Pune. This has always been the scene and with few cops to manage traffic, it becomes increasingly difficult maintain the traffic flow during rush hours. Thanks to senseless motorists who were cutting lanes at their mercy, traffic had piled up for almost a mile. We moved a snail’s pace to pick up passengers at Chandni Chowk. After battling traffic, we were back on the highway heading for the final break for the day.

Dinner Time

At around 8:45pm, we pulled over at Hotel Natraj. A lone standing B9R of VRL heading towards Mumbai welcomed us in. 10minutes into our break and the VRL departed only to be joined by another VRL. After 30minutes, the dinner break was finally over and it was time to head back on the highway. We resumed over journey and again the bus maintained a constant speed. Anand’s new sleeper bound for Bangalore overtook us and raced ahead while we were cruising near Karad. I finally decided to get some rest and closed my eyes to call it a day. I vaguely remember stopping for RTO checkups at around 12:30am and again at the Hubli Bypass Toll at around 2:30am.

Kudla Leppundu

It was around 7am when the devotional songs on the speakers woke me up. We were near Shiroor. We reached Baindur in no time and pulled over for the last break for the journey. Mangalore bound VRL sleeper was already resting at this place. Within few minutes we were joined by SRS B9R and the place was filled.  We were the first ones to depart and no sooner we rejoined the Highway, I was waiting for the most beautiful spot of NH-17, Marvanthe Beach.

We passed through this stretch and Mother Nature surely did not disappoint us and displayed her true beauty. We started to cover ground quickly, thanks to the four lane work which has shown some progress. We reached Kundapur in no time and after dropping few passengers, we headed towards Udupi and dropped most of the passengers here. Since the bus was not takes the bypass road, I was instructed by my friend to get down at Padukodi Bypass. We reached my drop off point in no time as traffic was very minimal and at 9:30am, my journey with Canara Pinto B9R was over.

Will I try this service again?

This is one route which I don’t travel on a regular basis however I would give full marks to the service and it is a must try if you are a regular traveler on this route. The bus was very well maintained and most passengers knew the crew too. Indeed the Scania Mania is slowly gripping cities across India but nothing can take away the pure traveling pleasure which a B9R can provide. If need arises, I will certainly try this operator again

Some pics taken at Baindur-

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

KSRTC's Scania ride to Bangalore.

KSRTC's Scania ride to Bangalore.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Augustine of Hippo

Service: KSRTC's Chennai- Bangalore Scania Metrolink
Distance: 370kms(appox)
Fare: 690/-

It was almost a month ago on August 3rd when I was enjoying a quiet meal at a restaurant when Mr Yeswanth Kadri (my mentor) called me up asking what my plans for the next day were. I was working as always however he insisted to make up some time and meet him the following day. He said he would let me know about the location on the following morning. Knowing him personally for almost 2yrs now, I knew something big was in store and waited eagerly for day break at work. The phone rang as promised and the location was given. 

Without further delay I headed straight to the Depot 4 of KSRTC only to find two Swedish beauties decked up like a bride hogging all the limelight. Yes, it was indeed the Scania Metrolink buses which had quietly made their way into KSRTC and was all set to begin trial run.

Ever since the launch ceremony, I was eager to try to try their service. Initially the bus ran between Bangalore and Mysore however that was not going to work as I had my hands full with work at office and I had no time at office. Days turned into weeks as I watched the pictures of the buses caught running between Chennai and Tirupati. It was not up until last week when I had my ‘Chennai Calling’ time.

I was meeting my family member and was very excited to see him after a year. Though he wanted me to book flight tickets, I was in no mood to miss this opportunity and booked myself a Scania ride back home.

That Moment

Yes, the moment I was eagerly awaiting for had arrived. After bidding a good bye, I skipped my dinner break and headed straight to the CMBT, Koyembedu. The bus was at 11:10pm from Chennai but I was in no mood to make a last minute dash to the bus stand and reached a good 1.5hours early. I spotted many Airavat B7R, Club Class, Superia picking up passengers. Amidst all the chaos stood a beauty graciously under the moon grabbing the attention of the onlookers.  While some looked at her puzzled others wanted to know if tickets were available for this service. Few wanted to know about its features and the timings for the departure. The crew had their task cut out trying to answer the queries. Apart from the crew was a technical assistant from Scania who was onboard the bus. 

I had booked my seat no 1 and boarded the bus and requested the crew to allow me as I was carrying a heavy back. The friendly crew obliged. I spoke to the crew about the service and they said the bus is very promising and it’s a pleasure to drive. Due to high security at the Bus stand, I decided to click few pictures of the bus from my cellphone as I did not want to risk any attention of the cops. I got down the bus and as I was about the click the pics, few cops made their way near the bus.  While I stood there waiting for my questioning session to begin, But then they slowly made their way towards the bus, smiled and requested the driver to let them inside. Close call I must say.

After a tedious wait, It was time to enter the platform. Most of the passengers who had booked their tickets had boarded the bus. We entered the platform and waited for few more to turn up. Considering it was a weekday, the bus was running 60% full. On our right side was a Superia which left as soon as we entered the platform leaving behind a battered Mysore- Chennai B7R and a Airavat Club Class Mercedes) After a couple of minutes the Mercedes departed and finally it was our time to depart.

Journey Begins

We pulled out of bus stand at 23:30hrs and headed out of Koyembedu. Though this was my third ride in a Scania, this was my first ever in Namma KSRTC and the excitement had touched its peak. The conductor handed out water bottles and blankets. Then came the feedback form which had clauses about the Bus, its features, crew behavior, driving, time management and so on. I got to work immediately giving them good grades and then came the most interesting column, time management. I gave them satisfactory and added a note to pull up their timings on their premium route. Also one reason y I marked them was the fact that I knew that this journey would take a little more than anticipated. Well, KSRTC had a surprise for me.

The a/c was set to optimum as the bus sailed through the traffic. After a couple of minutes into the journey, my eyes were battling sleep but I tried my best to stay awake. In the distance was the Superia which had left almost 30minutes ago. I was not sure what delayed him. Finally I gave up and closed my eyes. The noise inside the bus was bare minimum and it was more than enough to put me to sleep. The last thing I said to myself before closing my eyes was get a power nap, wake up and join the driver up ahead to enjoy my journey. I vaguely remembered passing the toll near Sriperumbudur.

Slept Like a Baby..!!!

I was deep in slumber without any clue about my whereabouts when the lights in the bus came on and the driver shouted out Krishnagiri..!!! I woke up startled and looked at my clock and it said 4:00am. It took me sometime to realize the time taken to cover the distance; however I sank into my comfortable seat to continue my sleep.

Silicon City is here

It was around 5am when the diver started playing devotional songs on the FM and I opened my eyes with great difficulty to see the bus had reached Electronic City. The driver took the road beneath the flyover and dropped few passengers at Bommanahalli and at Silk Board. The bus zipped passed the empty streets of Bangalore and in no time reached Shantinagar Bus Stand at 5:20am. It took me some time to realize that we covered over 350kms in less than 6hrs.While others began to get down, I grabbed the feedback form, scratched the ‘satisfactory’ option for Time Management and marked ‘Good’.  With that my journey with KSRTC’s Scania was over.

Will I try this service again?

There are all kinds of talk about KSRTC acquiring Scania buses after the trial period. I am not sure if that is true but if they do so, it will be yet another smart move from KSRTC. The bus is very comfortable and with the mileage figures that I heard from the crew, it sure looks like a winner.  The service is highly recommended and why wouldn’t I do so when you have courteous crew who are driving behind the wheels ensuring the safety of passengers on each passing mile.