A ride in the lap of luxury

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COOL COMFORT: Commuters enjoying their ride in a low-floor bus on Wednesday, the first day of its service in the city.
COOL COMFORT: Commuters enjoying their ride in a low-floor bus on Wednesday, the first day of its service in the city.

A businessman, who boarded the bus at Vytilla, was floored by the facility.

“My first review for the TV movie ‘The Bionic Showdown’ said I was as interesting as a bus ride,” quipped American actress Sandra Bullock recalling a critique of her 1989 film.

Seldom would an ordinary Kochiite concur with the reviewer on a city bus ride being an interesting experience. For them, it is an indispensable ordeal.

All that would be passé, if the low-floor buses that hit Kochi’s roads on Wednesday turn the wheels of change by making bus journeys pleasant and inviting. When seven low-floor automatic buses dotted Kochi’s arterial roads under a Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme, it aroused considerable amount of curiosity and excitement among commuters.

On the first day of the low-floor revolution, this correspondent and a photographer boarded bus number 603 & 604 (plying between Fort Kochi and the Cochin International Airport Limited) from Vytilla to know first-hand how interesting a bus ride could be. Not only that, it wasn’t the least disappointing, but in the two trips made between Vytilla and Kalamassery, we witnessed to our surprise that the passengers in the city had turned far more courteous and relaxed overnight!

There was this High Court lawyer who was seen helping our genial conductor Saravanan and the driver Rajasekharan — who reminded me time and again to describe him as coach captain — to encourage those waiting for their regular bus to board this for a change. “Even I didn’t recognise it to be a public transport initially. At first sight, I don’t think anybody would identify it with a Road Transport Corporation (RTC) bus. So you need to tell them that,” he explained his action.

And then there was Raju George, a retired Customs and Central Excise officer, who took the ride from Kundannoor to the airport and back (paying Rs 104) in the same bus just for the heck of it. “When I saw it, I was like ‘what the hell, I should test it out’ and am fully satisfied,” he said. He was seen making friends with a five-member French tourist team that boarded it for Fort Kochi at the airport unmindful of protests from a bunch of taxi drivers.

An Aluva-based businessman, George, who boarded the bus from Vytilla was floored by the low-floor facility. “I have decided to shun the car for this one for my daily travel. It is pleasant and less unnerving on our roads”. Students, businessmen, technicians, Air India’s check-in crew… the people who embarked on the low-floor bus journey on Wednesday are all a satisfied lot. Some made animated phone calls to let their dear ones know of their journey, while many recorded the images on their cell phones.

Bus No. 603, however, plied late by 40 minutes all through the day thanks to the heavy traffic at Kundannoor in the morning.

S. Anandan

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