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Reporter's Diary

The risk to life and limb of bus commuters comes in several ways. Bad roads and haphazard parking of buses are among them. The space earmarked for buses inside the Chennai Central station is riddled with potholes, posing a risk to commuters and passengers, who are already affected by the haphazard parking of buses inside the station. Added to this is the surface of the road in the parking area.

Officials in MTC point out that the surface gets worn out soon. But they have no reply to queries regarding violations by the corporation crew. Besides these, the entry to the railway station from EVR Salai gets water-logged even after a drizzle.

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What should a commuter do if an MTC bus goes past a scheduled stop without halting? Try to catch the bus where the crew stops the vehicle. This was the advice from a senior MTC officer when his attention was drawn to the non-stopping of buses at the Periyar Bridge bus stop on Anna Salai (towards Arts College). He explained that it was indeed a tough job to oversee the operations. "If buses do not stop, let the commuters go to another stop where the vehicles halt", he said, little realising the hardships of people waiting indefinitely at the stop only to be at the mercy of bus drivers and conductors.

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A few spots in the city elicit strong emotions from citizens. Mylapore or Marina beach for example. But, Kathipara junction is fast joining a select tribe — for all the wrong reasons.

Several road users hate the very idea of being anywhere at this point during peak hour in the evenings. It is just clutch, brake, change gear and inch along in a cloud of pollution and noise after breakfast or before dinner.

The only saving grace is FM — for four wheeler drivers. But the song of the day could very well be from the Rembrandts — "It's like you are always stuck in second gear — When it hasn't been your day, your month or not even your year."

* * *

Southern Railway officials heaved a sigh of relief when the inaugural function of the new suburban BG lines on the Chennai Egmore-Tambaram section ended without any wrangling.

The officials had bitter memories the way leaders of All-Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam indulged in an unsavoury verbal duel during the inauguration of the broad gauge line between Tambaram and Tiruchi. It would have been a free for all at that time but for the timely intervention of the then Union Minister, the late Rangarajan Kumaramangalam.

But at Monday's meeting both the Central and the State Ministers confined themselves to issues concerning the State and did not raise any political quarrels. While the State Minister, R. Viswanathan, requested early completion of on-going projects in the State, the Minister of State for Railways, R.Velu, assured him that all the projects would be completed within five years.

* * *

After all that hype about `Singara Chennai' you would think the city's residents would have got the message. But even college students have learnt to ignore the slogan. On Friday, a college student who got into an MTC bus (11G) at Arts College on Anna Salai, occupied the seat next to the rear entrance.

A few seconds later, she threw a plastic bag out of the bus.

A little later, she unwrapped a chocolate bar and threw the wrapper out. Even pointed glances at the girl had no effect.

But then there are the youngsters who surprise their colleagues by carrying apple cores in their handbags and dumping them in the dustbin at home.

* * *

(By K.T. Sangameswaran, Dhanya Parthasarathy, S. Vydhianathan and R. Sujatha)

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