Actually, during the mid of may, when my brother's marriage date in Tirunelvely was confirmed, i was determined to travel in an AC bus. I was confused a lot as i was left with lot of choices, while booking the tickets. I got the following options after a brief search over the internet and www.redbus.in
- SETC AC Coach bus: Fare Rs 560.
- ABTX Travels AC bus: Fare Rs 605.
- SRM Travels Volvo: Rs 890.
I omitted SRM Travels as the cost was too high. I also omitted SETC AC Coach as, i found the travel time too high for an AC bus, in a stretch which is 100% 4 lane road. I was thinking of booking in TNSTC AC Coach bus, but TNSTC AC bus was full. So, i was left with the last option of ABT Travels. It was an Ashok Leyland 12m Chaises. I booked the ticket. The departure point was Koyambedu Private bus stand, at 6 PM. I went there at 5:30 PM and took the boarding pass immediately and he asked me to wait in the AC Waiting hall, where there were other passengers bound to Tirunelvely and Nagercoil. The bus came from Guindy, where ABT has it's own depot. It came at 6:05 PM and departed at 6:15 PM after all the passengers came. The bus was almost 75% full. He took the Maduravoyal by-pass route and had Perungalathur as the third boarding point. This was the last point from where he boarded the passengers.
After this, he was flying like a rocket, in his maximum speed. SRM Volvo was the only bus that overtook us. He, stopped for dinner at 8:40 PM somewhere between Tindivanam and Villlupuram. I remember, it was around 9:10, when he by-passed Villupuram. After that, i felt asleep and in between I used to wake up and see where was the bus moving. It was 11:40, when he was by-passing Tiruchirapalli. After that, i felt deeply asleep and it was around 1:30, when he stopped for break near Kovilpatti. After he started from there, i was never feeling sleepy. The drivers got exchanged and the new driver (who was the original driver, dressed up in White and White uniform) started driving and he was driving very slow. Even, normal Express buses from TNSTC and SETC overtook this bus during the short 1 hour trip. Finally, he reached Tirunvely Junction Bus stand at sharply 3 AM, from where i boarded an auto to a lodge near Vannarpettai. When enquired about the timing of the bus with the auto wala, he told that this bus came half-an-hour earlier today.
I was really surprised and got impressed with the travel as he was faster than some of the trains that run in this route. Earlier, Chennai - Tirunelvely, used to take 14 hours in the single 2 lane road.