It was once again from Tirunelveli to Puducherry as usual as a yearly trip to my native place. This time it was planned urgently, so I could not get return tickets in my usual bus PRTC from Nagercoil to Puducherry, though I got seats for the onward journey.
So, I decided to go for a UNIVERSAL TRAVELS bus from Thiruvananthapuram to Puducherry, via Nagercoil, Tirunelveli, Tuticorn, Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Chidambaram, Cuddalore and then to Puducherry. Yes, he took the ECR route from Tuticorn to Nagapattinam via Ramanathapuram which was opened for traffic just few days before the travel.
The bus was a 2 in 1 Sleeper and Semi-Sleeper. I opted for a Semi-Sleeper ticket. The timing, he is supposed to start from Tirunelveli was at 8 PM. So, I was waiting near the Junction Bus stand from 7:45 PM. I was waiting, waiting and waiting for around One and a half hours. He came at 9:30. The first impression itself dashed my hopes of a happy trip in a Omni bus. The bus was a brand new bus registered at Karaikal, making its 2nd trip I suppose.
He started at 9:45 after all the passengers came and he left for Tuticorn. He reached there after an hour. He stopped there for break for half-an-hour. The seat was almost filled with passengers bound to Karaikal being most of them. Though I was half awake during the night, I remember he was going through some deep interior village roads, loading and unloading parcels in the mid-night. Though the ECR road from Ramanathapuram to Tuticorn was open for traffic few weeks before, he didn’t even travel 10% of the distance in that. At last around morning 4 AM, he touched the ECR road. At that instant only I came to know that he was going via ECR to Karaikal. Till that moment, I was not even aware that he will be going to Karaikal. Also, a passenger who boarded the bus along with us asked whether it will go to Karaikal. I was wondering and I said no. Finally, he reached Karaikal at morning 6 AM, which was too slow for an Omni bus. This was one part of the sad story.
The second part comes here:
He came to Chidambaram at around 8 AM, dropped the passengers and he left. During the mid of the travel, he was moving damn slow just like a bullock-cart. After around 30 minutes, I got irritated and enquired the driver. He said that someone left their handbag in the bus. So only he was moving very slow. Finally, the passenger came at 8:50 near Mutlur and took the handbag. Finally we came to Pondy at 10:45 AM. The bus, which was supposed to come at 7 AM in the morning to Puducherry, was almost 3 hours late.
From, that moment I decided not to take Universal Travels any more in my life. After that, 2 years has passed by and it was only once, I travelled in am Omni bus, SHARMA to Coimbatore from Pondy.
Even RATHI MEENA operates a 2 in 1, Sleeper cum Semi-Sleeper coach to Thiruvananthapuram. He takes the following route: Thiruvananthapuram – Tiruchirapalli, Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Mailaduthurai, Chidambaram, Cuddalore. He overtook the Universal bus just before we reached Chidambaram.