Highlights need for staggering the working hours of educational institutions

Close on the heels of the death of four students who travelled on the footboard of a bus in Chennai recently, the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC), Coimbatore Division, has initiated steps to ease congestion in its city buses during school and college hours.

A senior TNSTC official told The Hindu that the divisional managers and branch managers of TNSTC had been asked to identify the number of institutions in their jurisdiction and their timings to ascertain the most congested routes during peak hours.

Stock taking had already begun and reports were expected within the next three weeks and TNSTC was confident of having a pucca system in place by the end of January.

Already, the TNSTC had written to the district administration suggesting and highlighting the need for staggering the working hours of institutions.

If the school/college starting time and dispersal time were staggered in a gap of 15 to 30 minutes each, the accumulation of students at bus stops and over crowding in buses could be avoided to a considerable extent.

In addition, the TNSTC had also begun an exercise to revisit the timings of its city bus services to make more services available i.e., originating or passing through institutions at times when the classes begin or disperse.

In Coimbatore city, there were 2.5 lakh students holding bus passes and there were about 300 to 330 institutions. TNSTC had been operating close to 610 city buses on more than 400 routes while the private operators had a share of about 137 buses on city routes.

The official said that efforts were also on to sensitise the bus conductors to ensure that they stopped at bus stops during school hours and picked up students to overcome complaints that TNSTC buses were reluctant to take on board students holding bus passes.

The crew had also been sensitised to make sure that irrespective of the classification of the bus, students were accommodated.

In case of institutions located close to each other, the crew had been asked to identify the congestion problem and suggest measures to overcome it.

The TNSTC would be ready to operate ‘students’ special’ or even “cut services” i.e., a bus operating only for a particular portion of the permitted route in order to ease the passenger load pressure closer to schools, the official said.

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