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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XX No. 4, june 1-15, 2010
Travails of city bus travel
(By M. Ramanathan)

Allan Octavian Hume “was greatly distressed” to see Indians falling prey to alcoholism and in a note dated September 14, 1860 to the then Government of India, he remarked that this was “one of the greatest existing blots on our Government of India.” Yet, 150 years later, we find in every nook and cranny in the city a TASMAC shop.

Badly maintained environs around these shops spare none, not even teetotallers and toddlers alike. Consider the bus stop on Poonamallee High Road, opposite the Government Siddha Hospital. This stop, earlier located opposite a hotel now converted into a shopping mall, is right next to a TASMAC shop and commuters have to vie for elbow space with the ‘spirited’ customers. Here there is no sign indicating a bus stop, leave alone a bus shelter, or details of bus numbers that halt there.

Does the MTC really care for the citizens of Madras? A senior MTC official recently told The Hindu (22.4.10) that “providing precise arrival and departure timings… is unfeasible… Consumers will use the timetable to find fault with us. We do not want to create problems for ourselves.” How citizen-friendly is that?

The story does not end here. MTC, earlier known as Pallavan Transport Corporation, does not appear to want the public to know details of its various routes – such as all the stages and respective fares – judging by its website But it does  provide some details (when was it last updated?) about the facilities provided (including those proposed), various fares –including different concessions available – fleet strength (totalling 3267, Chromepet region topping with 927), and so on and so forth.

Good sense seems to have prevailed on the powers-that-be in having details of complaints received and actions taken published in the FAQ section, but it is very disappointing to see such content grouped as ‘FAQ’. The last item (No. 18) in FAQ pertains to the above comment of the MTC official. The same official cites “highly congested roads” as the main reason for not publishing a timetable. But would they be so congested if the MTC was more user-friendly.

With the exception of bus stops at Madras Medical College and a few thereafter, pavements are missing in many parts of Poonamallee High Road. The CMDA and the Chennai Corporation alike are keen to expand city limits, and increase property, water and sewerage taxes, but they have very little or no time to think about amenities to improve the lot of the citizen.

A few months ago, our Mayor visited the Mayors’ Climate Conference held in Copenhagen. In an interview given to The Hindu (Dec. 17, 2009) he stated that “different sessions gave useful insights into new technologies”. The report was accompanied by a photograph of our Mayor and Mexico City’s Mayor leaving the Town Hall Square for a bicycle ride through Copenhagen. Would he be able to do that in Madras? He and his Councillors should regularly travel by public transport to understand the pain and suffering the patient public endures in their day-to-day lives.

Of late, public spaces in the City and the State have become vehicles to announce the Ulaga Tamizh Semmozhi Conference scheduled to be held in Coimbatore from June 23rd to 27th! I was surprised to find even the backs of bus tickets carrying the logo of the conference with the dates. Would the conference make life more comfortable for those travelling in MTC buses or walking on our pavements?


In this issue

Road widening is NOT the answer for City’s traffic
River basins, not stretches, should be looked at
Travails of city bus travel
Adyar Poonga gets ready for the public
Historic Residences of Chennai - 43
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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