Summary

From: Ernakulam- Edapally Toll Jn
To: Perungalathur, Chennai
Bus: Tippu Sultan Travels AL 10.8 m 160 bhp Non AC SS
Schedule + Route: Ernakulam-Thrissur-Palakkad-Coimbatore bypass-Salem-Attur-Ulundurpet-Chennai
Date: 27-1-2013
Seat no: 2,2nd row RHS Window
Fare: Rs 740(Actual: Rs 815. Got a discount of Rs 75 through goibibo)
Departure-Scheduled/Actual:5.15 pm/5.18 pm
Arrival: Scheduled/Actual: ??/6.20 am
Occupancy: Full 36/36

Trip and booking

A trip to and fro Ernakulam was planned only as late as Jan 3rd week and hence my options for the return trip was limited. Was lucky to get tatkal ticket for my onward trip to Ernakulam. For the return trip, SRM was already sold out and i was left to choose between Sona multi, KPN non AC and Tippu Sultan non AC. Sona had jacked up their fares and not reliable on timingsm so ruled it out. I wanted to check out KPN's non AC service which had good reviews, however, only a single last row seat was avilable. Moreover, KPN leaves at 4.30 pm and i didnt want to leave that early. So, finally i was left only with Tippu Sultan non AC. About 15 seats were available. I booked a 2nd row right side window seat. Booking was done through Goibibo and got a handy discount of Rs 75 and the fare worked out to Rs 740. I thought that the bus would be an old rattling bus and wasnt much excited about the journey.

On the day of travel, i got a message from TravelYaari about my trip,(i guess goibibo has tied up with Travelyaari). I had to take a print out of my ticket, rang up the number provided in the ticket to enquire about the exact boarding point location. I left home by around 4.45 pm, took a JnnURM AShley rear engine LF(Angamaly bound) to Edappally. I was surprised that the fares in these LFs are lesser than the fares of the ordinary and private buses. !! Inspite of that the bus was sparsely crowded and very few people boarded the bus whenever it stopped at a bus stop.

I was dropped off at Edapally toll Junction by 5.05 pm. Coimbatore bound Supaa non AC sped off soon. By around 5.10 pm, a white KL-02 X registered Sona AC SS coach arrived and a couple of passengers boarded the bus, must be one of the looting special services run by them.

By 5.18 pm, i saw my bus from the distance, it was a maroon colored bus, i waved my hand. It was a hasty pickup: The bus slowed down, the cleaner shouted and asked "seat no 2?" and i got into the moving bus and the bus picked up speed again.

Timeline and Descripation

5.18 pm: Edapally toll Jn

5.30-5.36 pm: Pick up at Aluva- TIme lost waiting for a passenger. In the meanwhile, KeSRTC's Tiruvalla Deluxe, a red Suresh Kallada b9r and a S Kallada sleeper overtook us.

5.52-5.55 pm: Angamaly pick up
6.35 pm: Pallikkara toll

6.45 pm-7.25 pm: Heavy traffic all the way from Ollur to Sakthan Stand, Thrissur, bus gad to crawl the entire stretch.

7.30 pm-7.40 pm: Thrissur town pick up
8.30 pm: Vadakanchery pick up

8.45 pm-9.15 pm: Dinner halt at a Hotel on the highway side in Alathur. A little later, KeSRTC's Velankanni Super Express also pulled in there for dinner

9.40 pm: Palakkad town pick up
9.50 pm: Chandra Nagar pick up
10.30 pm: Walayar Check Post

10.45 pm: Entered Coimbatore L&T bypass
10.50-11.00 pm: Fuelling break at a BP outlet
11.25 pm: Karumathamapatty
03.50-04.05 am: 15 min bio+tea break at Madapattu, 18 kms before Ulundurpettai
06.00 am-06.15 am: Dense traffic beyond Vandalur
6.20 pm: Perungalathur, drop

The end to end timing from Edapally to Perungalathur is amazing and definitely is lesser time than some of the multis running in the Ernakulam-Chennai route. The bus just took 4 hours and 20 minutes to cover the 300 km stretch between Karumathampatti and Madapattu, and just 1 hour 55 minutes to cover the 150 km Madapattu-Vandalur stretch. Multi axle timings indeed..


Bus quality

The bus : KL-01-BD-5910, was delivered in September 2011(got this info from Kerala MVD site)- a relatively new bus. The exteriors were of maroon color and looked okay. The bus was powered by a 160 bhp 6 cylinder engine and i presume that the chassis must be of 10.80 m length since there were only 36 seats totally. The front door was pneumatic driver controlled type.

Interiors were good too. Seats had a good angle of recline, there was no calf rests though. There was ample amount of leg space in offer, since there was no calf rest as well, and hence i kept slipping off my seat at times.. ! There were no curtains. The bus had an LCD screen. The suspension was good considering Ashleys standards. THe engine noise was fairly audible within the bus, inpite of having a cabin separation. However, no vibrations or rattles were felt.

Driving

Both drivers were very aggressive. The first driver was pretty fast in the Ernakulam-Thrissur 4 laned road. We keot overtaking even KeSRTC FPs, a S Kallada sleeper, among other vehicles.
However, the driving was outright rash in the 2 lane stretches of Thrissur-Palakkad and beyond. There were some very risky overtakes in the Palakkd-Walayar stretch, which made me really tensed. Some screeching brakes, and near misses made my heart throb hard. Hence i couldnt sleep well until Neelambur. The driving must have been smooth in the 4 lane stretches since i enjoyed an uninterrupted sound sleep from Karumathampatti to Madapattu and beyond. Horn was rarely used: it was used to make the risky overtakes.

Staff and service

Old tamil songs were played from Ernakulam to Thrissur. These werent the popular Tamil songs and found it borig(Purely personal, no offence meant) A recent Tamil movie was played only after the dinner break, and hence it ran upto 11.30 pm. Staff were very cheerful and courteous. Both the drivers as well as the cleaner were from TN.

Ratings

Bus quality and Comfort- 4.5/5 - -0.5 for no calf rest. Good leg space, no vibrations felt and a reasonably good suspension.
Staff- 5/5
Service- 4/5 : - 1 for playing movie until late in the night.
Driving: 3/5: -2 for being rash at times.
Punctuality: 5/5

Verdict

I had very low expectations about the journey, when i booked this bus as a last resort option. However, with a relatively new bus, excellent timings and good travel comfort, my journey turned out to be a good one. However, the rash driving in the 2 lane roads was a major let down. This service, which has timings compaarable to multi axles and better than some multi axles, definitely is a VFM option, since the fares cost at least RS 500-600 less than the premium buses.