Travelling on Mettupalayam Road continues to be a nightmare because of the condition of the road between Narasimhanaickenpalayam and Mettupalayam besides the ever-increasing vehicular traffic. Buses, especially those by the private operators, continue to unleash terror on this stretch because of the passenger patronage.
The accident on Monday and the resultant violence serves as a reminder on ensuring discipline and the need for decongesting the road.
According to officers in four police stations which covered the entire Mettupalayam Road stretch, not a single day passes off without a fatal accident or three to four non-fatal accidents (see graphics for statistics).
A substantial portion of the road from Kavundampalayam to Narasimhanaickenpalayam which earlier accounted for a large number of accidents has been improved with widening and strengthening. Now, the stretch has turned safe to a considerable extent. However, the road from Narasimhanaickenpalayam continues to be narrow with potholes and curves.
There are nearly 28 private buses and 32 buses of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operating on the Coimbatore – Mettupalayam besides some services on the Mettupalayam to Pollachi / Udumalpet / Palani via Coimbatore and services from Palani and Pollachi to Kotagiri / Coonoor / Udhagamandalam and services from Coimbatore towards the Nilgiris and beyond. In addition, there are nearly a dozen buses operating on the permits issued by the State Transport Authority.
Bus operators are given a running time of one hour for covering the 37 km distance and there are seven fare stages on the road.
A transport corporation employee pointed out that the private buses never leave the bus stand on time and they just move slowly in a bid to get more passengers. After wasting nearly 10 minutes near the bus stand and another 10 minutes in wading through the city traffic, drivers waste another five minutes by stopping en-route for picking up every single passenger. Having lost more than 15 minutes of running time, the drivers tend to over-speed in a bid to compensate for the loss in running time. This results in rash and negligent driving causing fatal accidents.
The most resorted to public transport system is buses and only now, there is a regular passenger train service on this section, pointed out K. Kathirmathiyon, secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause.
Railways is operating four services i.e., eight trips on the Coimbatore – Mettupalayam section with 11 coaches.
While Mettupalayam rail users wanted the number of coaches to be increased by one more at least, they add the services should to be increased by at least four more (two in each direction), especially during the peak hours. Restoration of skeleton services on Sunday is also a demand.
Sources said that Railways going by the encouraging patronage for the passenger trains had already proposed electrification of the section.