Welcome back again friends; here I am sharing the experiences of my return journey from Kanyakumari to Puducherry by SETC. I had booked tickets before 1 month itself, as a part of my plans to visit my NativeTemple.
The scheduled departure of the Kanyakumari – Puducherry UD was changed from 4:00 PM to 2:45 PM and the route was changed via Neyveli instead of Villupuram, in the upward direction, as the return journey to Puducherry was too dull and the collection was too low most of the times.
We had a nice day’s time to enjoy at Kanyakumari and the room we booked was very close to the bus stand. So, we started from the room by just 2 PM and went and had our lunch inside Hotel Seasun, inside the Kanyakumari Bus Stand.
I knew that we will be boarding the GS Coach built bus, TN-01-N-9905. To our shock and surprise, we found from one of the SETC Conductors that our bus had breakdown during the downward journey to Kanyakumari at Gangaikondan. We got info from SETC Counter that the bus is waiting at Tirunelveli bus stand and we will be dropped at Tirunelveli by another bus. We were a total of 10 passengers; waiting to board the Puducherry bound SETC at Kanyakumari. We were dropped at Tirunelveli by the 3 PM Kanyakumari Vellore SETC bus ( TN-01-AN-0074). He reached Tirunelveli New bus stand sharp by 5:20 PM and the Puducherry bus immediately started from there, with 24 passengers on board, with 2 passengers bound for Neyveli.
He was maintaining a average speed of 70 kmph, with a top speed of 74 kmph, and while we crossed Kovilpatti, NANJIL ( TN-01-AN-0535 ) went past us and our bus stopped at HOTEL ARYAs near Sattur by 7 PM. I had a hygienic and satisfactory breakfast there. It was by-far the best of the Roadside Motels present along the entire Kanyakumari – Chennai stretch. There, the drivers got exchanged and we started by 7:20 PM. Immediately, after starting, we experienced some problems with the bus accelerating and with the clutch of the bus. He was somehow able to cross Thirumangalam and immediately when he entered the Madurai by-pass, the bus started giving the same problem, which was experienced at Gangaikondan; the second driver-cum-conductor was new to driving and he was the main reason for the problem to occur the second time. The driver was informed that, they need to be careful while driving the bus for such a long distance, by the Tirunelveli depot authorities.
The conductor had a plan to drop us atleast till Madurai bus stand, so that he can help the passengers catch another bus. But it was already too late, as Schencottah – Puducherry, Thiruvananthapuram - Puducherry and Madurai – Puducherry went already. The time was 9:30 PM and the bus was struggling to cross the last railway under-bridge in the Madurai By-pass and it stopped in the midway. Then the conductor reacted immediately by stopping the Virudhinagar - Chennai SETC bus, so that we can reach Madurai bus stand at the earliest. It was a KMS built bus and it was looking very cool and neatly maintained. The driver of our bus asked the Virudhunagar bound bus to stop at the end of the by-pass, so that he can stop the Tiruchendur – Puducherry bus. But, it was already full and the 2 Neyveli bound passengers were asked to board it, as it was the last option for them.
The remaining 20 Puducherry bound passengers, were guided by Kanyakumari Puducherry conductor to the SETC office at MIBT. There, an official told that he will arrange for a bus, but only uptoVillupuram, as there would be permit problems in operating buses to Puducherry. There was heavy crowd at MIBT, bound to Chennai, such that, all the buses entering MIBGT empty from Southern districts, went outside filled. Even, the SETC AC bus from Tuticorn, went out from SETC filled.
It was about 45 mins, we were waiting for the Special bus, that would be operated upto Chennai, for us, with the remaining seats to be filled with passengers bound to Chennai, while the Puducherry bound passengers to be dropped at Villupuarm. Meanwhile, an North Indian couple, who faced the same problem while coming to Puducherry in the same bus the previous day, was demanding the ticket cost from Villupuram to Puducherry. Till then, our bus conductor was temporarily arranging for seats at different buses that entered MIBT, trying to send people in batches till Villupuram.
Luckily, we got seat in the Kanyakumari – Thiruvottiyur SETC, 282 UD ( TN-01-AN-0464 ). It started from MIBT by 11:15 PM. He was doing good in terms of speed ( aveaging about 75 kmph, with a top speed of 79 kmph ), though many other new SETC UDs and Private buses went past us. He went inside Tiruchirapalli and drop the passengers and fill diesel. He was given only 50 liters of diesel, apart from the diesel that he filled in at Kanyakumari, though he was arguing for 70 liters of Diesel, so as to enable him go uptoThiruvottiyur. Here, the drivers got exchanged and the conductor started driving. Both of them were new recruits. As per the info from a co-passenger, the bus had luckily escaped from an accident, with light scratches ( when the conductor was driving ). I was completely awake from Tiruchirappalli and saw that the person driving didn’t knew to drive properly, and again escaped 2 minor collisions with other buses. He was comparatively slow and many new SETC UDs and Private buses overtook this bus.
Finally, we were dropped at Villupuram by 4:45 AM and from there, took a TNSTC VPM bound to Puducherry, to reach my home at 6 AM. It was one of my rare bitter experiences with SETC.
Though this journey was bitter, I need to appreciate SETC in the following things:
- For stopping at a very good and decent hotel , instead of stopping at M-Hotel along with many other SETCs.
- The crew of Puducherry Kanyakumari bus to be with the passengers till the end and helping the passengers arrange seat.
- The Depot / Branch Level Management to take decision immediately, by arranging special buses to help us reach Villupuram.
- The crew of Kanyakumari -Thiruvottiyur bus for stopping the bus in the mid-way at a Motel for tea on request from two old passengers.
FRIENDS, THANKS FOR PATIENTLY READING THE ENTIRE LONG POST. SORRY FOR POSTING SUCH A LONG POST, AS I WANTED TO DESCRIBE EACH AND EVERY INCIDENT I FOUND AND EXPERIENCED.