This will ease traffic congestion witnessed at Shopping Complex bus stand; omnibus owners willing to shift

Who is to blame for the traffic congestion in the Shopping Complex bus stand? This simple question evokes different responses and accusations.

The public blamed the traffic police for the poor regulation of vehicle movement. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) employees pointed the finger at some of the omnibus operators for encroaching on the public space, which resulted in congestion.

Madurai District Omnibus Operators and Owners Association president Moideen Basha said it was the tourist bus drivers from other States, who occupied the Shopping Complex bus stand to enable tourists to conveniently visit the Meenakshi Temple and the Naicker Palace from the point.

The traffic police officers manning the stretch passed the buck to the Madurai Corporation for not shifting the omnibus operators from the cramped space. Though the Corporation had long back agreed to provide space for the omnibus operators to have their offices and park their vehicles near the Maatuthavani bus stand, the plan is moving at a snail’s pace.

Ultimately, the congestion persists, and the passengers continue to bear with hardships.

When this correspondent spoke to the TNSTC crew using the Shopping Complex bus stand, they squarely blamed the omnibus operators.

“As omnibuses are parked inside the complex bus stand as early as 7 p.m., the carriage space for city buses became narrow,” said Ariyaputhiran, a TNSTC driver.

Out of the 802 city and town buses plying in the city, 250 buses touch the Shopping Complex bus stand, marking 1,348 departures and arrivals every day, according to a senior TNSTC official.

The Shopping Complex bus stand covers Chintamani, Kariapatti, Teppakulam, Thiruparankundram, Thirumangalam and Maatuthavani (via) South Gate sectors.

“On Sundays and holidays, passengers find it tough to get down from city and town buses in the Shopping Complex bus stand between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. as the drivers would be compelled to move the vehicles in less than a minute,” Balamurugan, a conductor, said.

“The traffic police yell at us, so we have to force passengers to get down fast. When the police force the TNSTC buses to move out quickly, they remain silent on the omnibuses, which have encroached on the space,” he said.

“The passengers shout at TNSTC drivers when they move the buses quickly. Though it is called the Shopping Complex bus stand, it is being treated only as a bus stop,” said Ramanathan, a student at Madurai Kamaraj University.

“City buses should wait at least for five minutes and then depart. Only then passengers find time to board and get down from buses,” he added.

According to data available with the Transport Commissioner’s official website as on 1.11.2012, there are 821 omnibuses in Tamil Nadu, out of which 677 have state permit and 144 All India permit.

From Madurai, omnibuses are operated to Chennai, Cochin, Ernakulam, Tiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Tirupati and Hyderabad.

Nearly 40 private operators run 94 services to Chennai and 30-40 operate to other destinations daily. When TNSTC and private buses operating on mofussil routes, especially those crossing the Periyar bus stand, are barred entry into the city to avoid traffic congestion, why should authorities allow omnibuses to park inside the Shopping Complex bus stand, many wonder.

“The authorities should shift them to the Maatuthavani bus stand,” said TNSTC trade union leader S.Sampath.

However, denying the allegation, Mr.Basha said it was wrong to blame them. “We don’t encroach on public space as alleged by the TNSTC. Some of the tourist buses coming from other States are parked at the Shopping Complex bus stand only because the location is close to the Meenakshi Temple.”

“We have been waiting for the Corporation to allot space near Maatuthavani bus stand. Once it is ready, we will shift our booking offices there,” he said.

When buses bound for Tiruchi, Chennai, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil, Ramanathapuram, Rameswaram, Sivaganga, Thondi, Rajapalayam and Shencottah have their departure and arrival points only at the Maatuthavani bus stand, the omnibuses should also vacate the space from the city. This alone would put an end to the congestion, Mr.Sampath said.

A State Express Transport Corporation official said the ban on mofussil buses to enter the city was the prime reason for the SETC buses to move from the Periyar bus stand to Maatuthavani. The huge space (next to the Periyar bus stand) is kept unused, except for one reservation office, he said.

Allowing omnibuses into the Shopping Complex bus stand and barring entry into the city for state-owned buses bound for Chennai, Bangalore and Andhra Pradesh amounted to discrimination, said the TNSTC bus crew.

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