Chennai and its suburbs have grown more integrated in the last five years to the extent that people do not think twice about commuting long distances.
Engineering and medical colleges have their own buses, but the arts and science college students have to grapple with the distance factor, using their own vehicles or public transport. Here, some students speak about the daily commute.
Sister Kalpana, final year, MSW, Loyola College
Sister Kalpana lives in the Holy Cross convent in Perambur and commutes to college everyday. She spends nearly one-and-half hours each way, everyday in travel. She first takes a train from Perambur to Park station and then take another train to Nungambakkam. “Sometimes, the route from Perambur to Park is busy and what should take 15 minutes takes half an hour or more.”
Roderick, final year, Visual Communication, St Thomas College
Roderick lives in Kolathur and gave up using public transport when he got a two-wheeler last year. For a year now he has been driving to college, 12-13 km.
“It takes about 20 minutes if the roads are empty but in traffic it can take up to an hour,” he says. This costs him Rs.100 every two days.
Roderick wears a helmet sometimes, passing it up other times because it gives him a neck pain to keep it on for hours. Still he enjoys the freedom and giving a ride to friends, sometimes.
Jennifer, final year, MSW, Loyola College
Mary Jennifer Amalraj studies in the second shift. Her college timings are from 1.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. She starts from Tondiarpet, takes a bus to Beach station, sometimes having to wait for half-an-hour for the bus.
She has to miss crowded trains many times to get a slightly empty one. This could fetch her a fine or a scolding at college. She reaches home by 8.30 p.m. “I have lost a lot of weight in the last two years,” she says.
Sangavi, final year, BSc Computer Science, Meenakshi College
Sangavi commutes to college daily from Nanganallur. By road it would take her over an hour, but she takes the suburban train. While the train is very crowded in the morning, she enjoys the travel back home in the evening.
Though there is a group of students who go by train, she usually travels alone, using those 15 minutes to study.
“Computer Science involves a lot of reading,” she says, smiling. “The train is so much better than the bus,” she says, recalling how it was when she used to take the bus to do her internship at SBI, Pallikaranai.
Pavithran, first year, BBM, DG Vaishnav College
Pavithran commutes everyday from Tirumullaivoyal to Arumbakkam, about 15 km, on his two-wheeler.
“It can take up to one hour,” he says. There are no trains on that route, though if he wishes he can take a train from Annanur station.
He is often left with a headache or is very tired at the end of the day, having spent up to three hours on travel. So why does he not take a bus?
“The bus will take even longer, I will have to leave home at 11 a.m. to reach my college in time for my 2.00 p.m. shift,” he says. Until recently there were no share autos or buses plying in the last stretch to his home.
Now the “small buses” have been set off on this stretch, so he may consider using them.