Although a long term SETC fan, I’d stopped using their services since 2018 when I wasn’t in this part of the country.
BHPian vigsom recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
This is a review cum travel experience by a rather unusual type of bus, something that most bhpians wouldn’t use at all – Tamil Nadu’s AC sleeper-seater service operated by SETC. Even I had my own apprehensions about this travel , which were all laid to rest by the time the journey was complete. What blew me away was the upkeep of the bus, the clean interiors, the super-clean rest stop and the supremely comfortable travel.
How I ended up choosing SETC for this ride?
Trichy-Bengaluru transport services are average, with
- Only one daily train servicing the route in the nights, on which accommodation is a hit or miss
- A few KSRTC services plying – all in the night
- A few private services – predominantly in the night
I had to make it back to Bengaluru from Trichy by night and had two options:
- Take a TNSTC bus to Salem and switch to an economy AC seater service from there
- Use SETC’s AC Sleeper-Seater service from Trichy to Bengaluru
The TNSTC buses’ seats are pathetic, with underseat pains post even 30 minutes, and that left me with opting for SETC.
My experiences with SETC this far
I’ve been using the Tamil Nadu Govt.’s express transport service since 1980 – was originally called Thiruvalluvar Transport Corporation (TTC) but re-christened SETC sometime in the late 90s. All these 40+ years, I have been a huge fan of this service despite some mixed feelings on many buses being rickety. What I found distinct in TTC/SETC was the quality of seats, which never disappointed despite the buses being in average shape. Another aspect that I always appreciated was the demeanour of the crew – several trips over several decades and not one incident of bad behaviour.
I targeted their 12:30pm service and although I knew that there’d be few takers, I decided to go ahead and book my ticket to choose a preferred seat. I chose a single seat in the 1+2 seating configuration, and all I ended up paying was INR 615. A walk in ticket would have been INR 575 for the seater. Got a text message like KSRTC and I was also armed with a soft copy of the ticket. Here is a tip for those wanting to use this service in the day – there is an AC Sleeper-Seater at 10am, 11:30am and 12:30pm. The 10am and 12:30pm services are sure shot while the 11:30am sometimes gets merged with the 12:30pm one.
Why I didn’t travel SETC for long
Although a long term SETC fan, I’d stopped using their services since 2018 when I wasn’t in this part of the country. Also, from 2020 till a few months ago, I know they had dropped their max speeds to 70 kmph post Covid shutdown (and fuel price hike). That would mean longer travel times, while trains had become much faster by then. SETC’s AC services took a long time to be restored since TN was one of the badly hit states during COVID-19. So, while I was looking forward to travelling in one of the white buses of SETC, the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until that day when I had to get back to Bengaluru.
I wasn’t excited but did look forward to experience a cool journey on a sweltering summer afternoon. I was at the bus station about 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure, waiting for the bus. Every time a white bus came in, I’d get ready to move, only to discover that it was a false start. In a few minutes, I’d figured out who the other potential travellers by this bus were and I just waited, waited and waited. At approx. 12:50pm, there was an announcement that the bus would come in in a few minutes. This was primarily to reassure cat-on-the-wall passengers who were trying to get coaxed by travel agents to the waiting Red Express private bus to Bengaluru. Most passengers stood their ground, and this was quite surprising.
Waiting area at the Trichy bus station – nothing much to say
The many buses, except ours that came in one after the other – all of them were very well kept. Kudos to the Trichy SETC Depot
Our steed arrives at 01:10pm
Our bus eventually came in at 01:10pm, forty minutes behind schedule. Within a couple of minutes of arrival, another text message came in which showed the bus regn number. Reason cited for the delay was that the originally allocated bus developed an issue in the AC blower which could not be fixed and another bus was then allocated. SETC has never been adept at solving AC issues quickly should they develop. Anyways, long story short, we were on our way in less than 15 minutes after arrival.
The moment I boarded the bus, it was a wow feeling. Clean flooring, light blue and cool interiors perfectly complemented by stainless steel bits – this was a 2019 Prakash built coach. The single seats under the berths lent a cozy feel probably because it felt like one’s personal space.
- Classy on the outside – barring a few scars, the exterior was stock
- Clean window panes; surprising for a 4 year old bus. The pics I took are testimony to these clean window panes
- Engine barely audible inside if the cabin door is closed
- Super clean interiors
- Easy to maintain upholstery
- Soft blankets available in the cockpit, maybe intended for the night passengers (I’d not use these though)
- 31 seats and 15 berths in a 1+2 combination – seats on the lower level and berths above
- Berths are neither too firm nor too soft – just right
- Seats well upholstered and designed for comfort even for travel to the moon!
- Seats’ recline was outstanding and legroom was adequate
- Head cushions at each berth to prevent the head from impacting plastic panels when getting up or lying down
- Neat blue curtains to separate the berths from the aisle; there is a separator curtain at every double berth too
- Rack at each berth with a dedicated slot to place water bottle, and ample space to even put a small suitcase in
- Emergency exit at the rear – on the right
- Bottle holder straps on seats had disappeared, courtesy vandals
- Drinking water not provided (not a dislike, but just calling this out)
Continue reading BHPian vigsom’s thread on the SETC bus service for more insights and information.
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