With a lot of people crowding at railway stations and bus stands to get on to the next available means of transport to reach their hometowns for Deepavali, the Central and Chathiram Bus Stands and the Tiruchi Railway Junction are bursting at the seams.
This, despite introduction of several special trains and additional buses for the festival. People from different strata of society employed in Tiruchi and other neighbouring districts, who could not get reserved tickets in trains or buses, started arriving at Central Bus Stand from noon for boarding the special buses operated by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and State Express Transport Corporation.
Tiruchi city, because of its central location in the State, also acts as the transit point for commuters from Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore who arrive in the city to change buses or trains for their onward journey. The availability of buses from Tiruchi to different destinations round the clock keeps the Central Bus Stand busy even during odd hours.
As usual, all the long-distance trains and buses from Tiruchi and those passing via the city were packed to the hilt. Even the regular buses proceeding to Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Kumbakonam, Tiruvarur, Pudukottai, and Karur were overcrowded and travelling on footboards was a common sight.
The Central Bus Stand was overflowing since afternoon and the crowd swelled with every passing hour. The clutch of holiday specials could not meet the demand.
Buses originating from Tiruchi and those passing via the city were seen vying with each other for that little space to squeeze out of Central Bus Stand. Commuters who had made advanced bookings, were seen running from pillar to post to spot their respective buses.
To ease congestion, the city police have put in place traffic changes across the city. Some of the city roads have been converted into one ways and the police have also installed barricades at major bus stops to prevent people from spilling on to the roads. The police have also set up four temporary bus stands to prevent overcrowding in Central Bus Stand.
The TNSTC and SETC has posted special staff inside the bus stand to ensure free flow of buses and guide people to particular bays all through the day. Following complaints of over-charging by omni buses, the State Transport Department has deployed a special squad in the Central Bus Stand area to check overcharging of passengers .
The officials conducted checks on board of a few omni buses and ascertained from the passengers the fare collected by the operators. They also watched the movement of touts who used to mobilise passengers for omni buses.