Kisumu is endowed with a myriad of choices when it comes to buses for those travelling to Mombasa. For this reason I hardly make advance travel arrangements because I am sure I won’t be singing Kriss Kross’s ‘I missed the bus’, unless its during the rush or I am travelling with The Most Beautiful P410 in Kenya KCF 589U. The P410 belongs to Modern Coast Bus Company.
21st of Feb wasn’t an exception. I knew I was going to travel so I got to town for a few of my errands. I passed through the main stage and she stood there. The 2nd Most Beautiful P360 in Kenya. Looking so elegant and the silver face glowing. She had just taken a bath and little drops of water resembled tiny balls of light as they reflected and refracted the sun’s rays.
I met Dennis Mbugua the Flight Manager of this particular bus and I wondered what he was still doing since it was almost 10am and he should have been sound asleep. He told me that he was waiting for a mechanic to help him sort out a problem. I asked whether the bus would go through Nairobi CBD because as I had been told, their highway buses never go through the office. It would have been a nightmare to alight at 11:30pm along Uhuru Highway. He said yes and that hey always pass by Ambassadeur Hotel whenever they have Nairobi passengers. My choice was made.
At their Kisumu office you will meet Calvin, a very friendly chap. He reserved a seat for me, I explained that I would pay as I boarded and he didn’t have any problem. I bid them goodbye and proceeded to my other activities. I was excited at the thought of boarding this beautiful beast. My first ride in the New generation P360s. I had planned to use the bus for a trip later in the year to Mombasa. I will use Gold Face or the other newer beasts yet to be unleashed by Dreamline.
1615HRS and I headed towards the road barely 10meters from my hustle point. That explains the pictures I post. I heard ‘we Ben twende’ and saw this HTR parked by the road. It belongs to my former boss in Busia. Oduki was at the wheel, we call him ‘Buda’ since he is old and speaks old sheng and calls everyone Buda. We catch up a little and I alight at Kondele since he was heading to Kibos. I realised I was getting late. That was 1635HRS. I called Calvo even though I knew his shift was already over. He stays around though to see off the buses and resolve any issues with the passengers. He told me Denno Mbugua was around and the bus was preparing to leave. 1650HRS and I arrived at the office and the bus was there. Guys were checking in, luggage being marked and properly arranged on a First Out Last In basis (FOLI). I met the other Dennis, The big man, warm full of jokes and can pull a serious face in seconds. He is the one who mans the afternoon shift. He asked for my name and I say ‘Bribist’. ‘The famous Bribist?’ he asks. I smile and it feels good to be known. I paid and headed for the bus. Seat 9 but I knew I would relocate once we are on our way. Change of mind, Dream 2 it is. Its the seat pair reserved for the crew.
Amin as I am told he is called The Shift One driver gets in and does a series of miracles here and there. The P360 has miracles much like the P410. I will try and explain these bus terminologies and slang at a later post. The seat first bounces up and down and settles to the weight of the driver, then the steering lets out bursts of air thsss thsss as it adjusts to give the driver maximum comfort and the desired ride position. I felt what appeared as an adjustment to our ride height. The bus leaves and it appears to over rev at the lowest of gears. The heavy roar sounds sweet and very powerful. We did a mini lap of honour to allow the flight manager clear with the office.
1710HRS and the bus exits and joins the highway. I notice Mash is still parked, Vanga is gone and there is Coast Bus KCF 105X which would prove to be a nightmare. As the dual carriageway way ended at Nyamasaria, its right behind us playing catch ups with us. Kaminwa hii ni mambo ya Jet Fuel ama ni nini?. We got our refreshments and hooked up our phones to charge. Manyota the reliever driver disappeared to the back of the bus which was full, Dreamline is always almost full. That Kanyari KCF just appeared and fled from us. Mkeka is plain. We caught up with it at Ahero as it slowed down and stopped.
Banbros did the bus nicely. There is plenty of legroom even though VIP 2 and 3 right behind the driver must be very squeezed. Notable though is that, the little annoying seat just before VIP 1 has been removed. Its VIP all the way to the windscreen. However, the seats behind the door need to be moved to the front a bit. When reclined, the door doesn’t open. Same problem with KCJ 388L, Simba Coach. The fabric, a certain blue is soft to the feel with these little bumps that feel comfortable to the body. The floor is well done and the little window details are also well done. No curtains, instead the windows are tinted. Two screens, quite small but retractable offer visual entertainment. What’s with the speaker cabinet next to the driver. Its like a universal eyesore in every bus. Can’t we have something better please? Some reggae videos were playing and I didn’t pay much attention not because I don’t like reggae but because I felt like we were being chased.
We stopped at Awasi to pick up two passengers who had requested for that. True to my fears, KCF 105X zoomed past us. KCK 266C is very comfortable as are the new Generation P360s. The Interior was warm and this bus has an Omata with the annoying beep. The hill climb at Chepseon was chicken feathers to this beast. The driver expertly and effortlessly manoeuvred these corners and we did the hills at a constant speed that must have been 80Kph, that annoying beep. Somewhere along the way, we passed that Coast Bus parked in front of a truck just before Kapsoit. We encountered rain as we approached Kericho. The wipers tried their best, at least they weren’t broken but they didn’t seem to like working together. This bus is lighter compared to Drum Your Own Beat and didn’t seem to struggle to pick up or slow down. It also has the hydraulics with gear changes. They are not as smooth as those of the P410. It has a distinctive swiii as the turbo spools and lets off. The freno as its popularly know is quite heavy and the sneezing air releases vrrcheea vrrrcheea. We stopped at Londiani junction for Mambasha people to buy some vegetables and potatoes. The bus appears invisible save for the lights which have been done with moderation this time. No lighthouse as with the other Fabricators. A light shone on her and her beauty explodes. Several night groundies and she looked awesome (the bus).
We encountered a Simba KBT from Kitale or Malaba. This particular Lion decided that he wasn’t going to read our mkeka. That Simba can sprint. From Sachangwan to Salgaa, that stretch and we couldn’t catch up. Our driver was relieved when it branched into their Nakuru office. I can’t remember what time we got to Falcon. There we found 615U From Busia, Kitale’s finest, Modern from Kisumu, Mash and another Dreamline ‘Dream Team’. I took a couple of photos, watched as folks were left by their buses and fixed into the next buses. More buses arrived as more buses left. So did we. I saw KCF 105X zoom past as we were still trying to find our way out. The last time I saw that bus until the next time I was back in Kisumu at the bus park.
The bus is quiet and it does well for its size. No notable down shifts as we went up the hills of Kikopey, Kinungi, Kariandusi (not in the correct order). That means hill climbs at 80kph on Gear 12. We met with several outbound buses. Headlamps are good, never did the driver complain. We caught up with the Malaba Modern just before Uthiru and easily overtook it. Skill and timing and lack of these two saw it stuck behind two trucks snailing along. The vehicle’s interior was quiet all along Waiyaki way. This road is the true test of interiors. Banbros did good. Some will argue that the bus is still new.
We snaked our way into the CBD past Kenyatta Avenue as it approached midnight. Several hyraulics let offs and a rapid burst of vrrcha vrrcha vrrcha and that final vrrrrrrrrchaaa and I alighted at Ambassador. It felt very very nice alight from such a beautiful bus at the City Centre. I shouted some pleasantaries to the crew and the other pax and wished them a safe journey to Mombasa.
Time check 2345HRS and Nairobi is still packed. I traced my way to my next destination. I enjoyed my safari so much.
Ride Comfort: 9/10
Time Keeping: 9/10
Speed and matters road safety: 9/10
Overall Rating: 8/10 weighed down by entertainment.