Had to visit Trichy for a family function and have to return to Chennai. Onward booked in Mangalore Express, Boarded Tambaram at 10:30 pm on Saturday 11th December, Loco was a Itarsi Wam4, Got in to sleep as usual the TTE came to check the tickets at 23:40hrs, just fallen sleep there was a commotion between RPF and some unreserved pax on the bay near to me. THis was around 01:58 somewhere near Villupuram.
THought atleast now i can have a good sleep till 4.45am, the train has reached Ariyalur around 3:30 hrs and 2 persons in my bay have to get down, they woke up the entire bay members before they moved to the Door. Blaming myself for the lost sleep thought atleast now i can have a sound sleep for another 1 hour, but not allowed, my relatives called me on the mobile to get down as we were are nearing trichy, i told them the next stop is srirangam and after that only Trichy comes. After completely losing my good night sleep the saving grace was the train reached Trichy at 4.30 am 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
Sunday 12 th was an auspicious day I had booked the ticket for 15:00hrs SETC UD from Trichy knowing about the rush i had booked the tickets in advance, only on reaching the bus stand i came to know on that day there was a heavy rush for all buses and particularly to Chennai, the passengers were swarming the buses, conductor bluntly refused ticket/ seat to everyone saying they have to procure the token to get entry in to bus. there were no signs of Arasu perunthu Villupuram, Kumbakonam STC bus were getting filled up even before coming to a halt.
On the bay 3 buses to chennai was standing as luck would have i had the most rundown bus JCBL built UD, TA998 TN-01 N7003, the bus had seen magenta yellow colour painting and presently was in its blue avatar.
THe conductor checked and punched the ticket before boarding in to the bus, on reaching the seat my son dusted the seat and there was so much dust in the air, he refused to sit in his seat, then calmed him down saying govt buses will be of this condition only. My wife's seat reclining mechanism was not working tried hard with the lever it didnt move an inch. 3pm departure left 3.15pm . I had reached the bus at 2.35pm, the bus whenit reached the bay is not known, due to self starter problem the engine was idling all along.
THought the conductor will allow standing , but he didnt allow anyone, only one extra person accupied the last row middle seat.
THe bus slowly left bus stand and joined NH45, we were able to get some air, the bus when it crossed Kollidam bridge it made so much noise and the ride was so bumpy thought the tyre has burst or lost the air, but the bus continued its journey, arounf 4.30 pm we were 253 km away from chennai, near ulundurpet the bus stopped at a motel near to reliance petrol pump while waiting came the TNSTC villupuram Volvo Chennai to Trichy. This bus after stopping at the motel the driver lowered the bus floor so much that it almost touched the floor. IS this facility available in the city volvo edition. I have seen the bus floor lowering in the airport pickup coaches which run inside the airport.
After a 20 minutes halt around 4.45 pm we started the journey soon there was some huge noise as of something got trapped between the wheels few minutes later the noise is gone and the bus continued. After some 25 km later again the same noise but this time it was louder and not abating. the driver stopped the bus and the conductor and myself got down to inspect the source of the noise, the rear wheel retreaded tyre's top layer was scraped for a good 50 cm length and it was hitting the sides, the conductor demanded a knife and i came and informed the driver as the bus had no self start, the driver was in his seat with the engine on, i doubted whether the driver will have a knife, he took out his bag and handed over a knife which i handed over to the conductor the conductore shoved off another 20 cm of loose hanging rubber, now the problem was the rearside wheel mudflap steel plate along with the angle had twisted and it was rubbing the tyre making the rubber to come off and touching the tyre making the noise, conductor from somewhere took a strong pole and tried to restore the touching steel plate back in its postion somehow he managed it this took almost 45 minutes. Afterwards the bus was moving at a slower speed.
All this repair work was going on no other SETC was stopping to enquire our condition. Whereas while on our journey the driver stopped and enquired a SETC bus at Perambalur where it was stopped at the roadside, the other bus driver signalled to proceed
After tindivanam the noise became too much again the steel has started rubbing the tyre the bus was stopped and this time the conductor tried to remove the mudfalp steel plate arrangement itself the crew had a set of spanners and the conductor tried hard to remove the nut holding the steel plate but the nut was so rusted and jammed it didnt budge, i suggested if he had a wheel spanner we can hit the plate hard to push it back, the conductor brought in a wheel spanner rod from a near by tyre puncture shop and started hitting the plate hard to push it back to avoid touching the tyre, meanwhile the rear tyre almost looked bald with the top rubber completely gone for a major portion.
With some wire (the tv connection wire the tv was not working) the conductor tied the steel metal plate and the bus resumed the journey by 8.30 pm. now the noise was not there but the bus moved slowly. We reached Perungalathur by 10 pm and thereafter the crew told they are taking Bypass to reach Koyambedu as the road through city is rough and the tyre may not last.
I must really appreciate the Driver conductor crew, knowing fully well the bus was full and sure no other bus would stop to take the passengers, even if they had stopped we should travel standing. But they made all out efforts to reach the destination, THey crew could as well have told that they cannot drive the bus any further, but they made all attempts to reach tambaram Koyambedu, I was really taken aback by the tools and accessories they had not seen earlier any crew being so resourceful, they brought in the spanners, the knife, the wooden pole, wheel spanner and the spirit, never ever they told that they gave up and asked us to fend for ourself.
Even though the ride with a completely bald tyre was risky as it would have burst even at a slighly rough patch, the crew had taken a risk
to reach up to tambaram/ perungalathur.
Rare event to see the govt bus crew perform at difficult conditions. May their tribe increase