Two accidents involving faulty brake systems in buses occurred in the last month alone

Two accidents in the last month involving Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses have once again raised questions on the maintenance of the vehicles.

The first accident, reported on August 16, involved an MTC bus (21 H) running over S.P. Johnson (38), a resident of Choolai, who was waiting at the bus stop on the footpath outside Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GH). Eyewitnesses said three persons were also injured in the accident.

The next day, an MTC bus on route number 54 M — operated between Maangadu and Broadway — ploughed into the bus stop on the Chennai central railway station premises. Luckily, no one was injured. “The incident happened around 5.30 p.m. I had just got out of my vehicle when I saw the bus running onto the pavement,” said a government railway police personnel.

The driver of the second bus told investigative officials that the brakes of the bus were not working. “He told us that none of the buses had properly functional brake systems. Luckily, no one was injured as the driver managed to ensure the bus stopped at a spot where not many commuters were waiting,” said the source. In the first case too, a faulty brake system is supposed to have caused the accident.

Another MTC driver said that the effectiveness of the braking system in most buses was only 35 to 40 per cent when a performance rate of at least 70 per cent was necessary.

Two types of tests are conducted to ascertain the braking efficiency of a vehicle. One is done while driving.

“If a bus is travelling at 30 km per hour and the brakes are applied, the vehicle should stop after 10 m. This distance can increase depending on the load being carried by the bus. The other testing is static and the gap between the brake drum and lining shoe is checked. But such testing is not being done systematically,” said sources.

Apart from the braking system, the lack of cleanliness of vehicles is also a sore point with passengers. “ One can see all kinds of litter inside the bus. Garbage left by passengers the previous day can be found in buses in the morning,” said an MTC official.

“In addition to the garbage, most of the buses start leaking during the rains. Complaints to MTC authorities are usually ignored. Special teams should be assigned to monitor the buses,” said S.Jegannathan, a retired government employee residing in ICF.

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