Here is a list of MRTS and EMU stations that seem light years away from the nearest bus stops. Intergration needed to raise patronage, say Liffy Thomas and T. Madhavan
T. Vincent cannot imagine life without his two-wheeler. The advocate travels regularly from MRTS Perungudi to Chennai Beach on work. Getting to the station from his home was a tiring affair until he began to use his two-wheeler.
“The bus stop is more than a kilometre away and I cannot depend on autorickshaws everyday,” says the resident of Gangai Nagar, Velachery.
It has been six years since the MRTS stretch was extended from Thirumayilai to Velachery, raising the profile of areas such as Taramani, Perungudi and Velachery, but the problem of poor inter-modal transport has been left unaddressed.
Same is the case with some stations on the Chennai Beach-Tambaram stretch. Over a decade ago, the promise of extension of MRTS (Phase II) and the prospect of a real estate boom were the main reasons why many people invested in areas along this line. MRTS Perungudi is not an isolated case.
Opening of the Indira Nagar Bridge has eased traffic flow to some extent, but commuters dependent on public transport have been left in the lurch. The closest bus stop, Adyar bus depot, is over 2 km away. On the MRTS stretch, Greenways Road, Kotturpuram and Chepauk stations present a similar picture with bus stops not being well connected with MRTS.
On the suburban line, residents of Pazhavanthangal, Tambaram Sanatorium are tired of making representations. MRTS Velachery is a boon to hundreds of commuters as it has reduced dependence on MTC service, but connectivity to neighbourhood such as Pallikaranai, Madipakkam, Adambakkam and Nanganallur remains poor.
S. Vijayabhaskar, a resident of Vijaya Nagar, Velachery, recalls bus services that plied from Chindadripet to various localities. They, however, where discontinued once the MRTS station was opened. “Feeder services are essential and it is unfortunate that the MTC withdrew its services from the Chintadripet station because of poor usage within a short duration,” he says.
At present, there are a few services from Velachery railway station on route number D70 (Ambattur Industrial Estate-Velachery R.S.), he adds. Though the MRTS corridor is a failure on some counts, it offers important lessons for upcoming transports systems such as Metro Rail and Mono Rail on the need to provide infrastructure like ramps, skywalks, nearby bus stops and pedestrians walkways. Will mini buses provide some solution? It is what many residents are pinning their hopes on.
“For long, there has been no connectivity for residents of Nanganallur. Commuters spend a minimum of Rs.50 per trip to reach Velachery, St. Thomas Mount and Pazhavanthangal stations,” says V. Rama Rao, secretary, Lakshmi Nagar Civic Welfare Association, Nanganallur.
He says that Velachery and Pazhavanthangal stations should be connected with mini-buses as envisaged. At present, there are only a few buses for Nanganallur residents such as 52-L High Court-Nanganallur, M18-C T.
Nagar-Keelkattalai and M1-Extn Kanathur-Nanganallur. While 52-L is ‘most infrequent,’ the other services are ‘unreliable’ too.
L. Sundararaman, president of Chitlapakkam Muthulakshmi Nagar Welfare Association, has made many representations to authorities to have inter-modal connectivity from Tambaram Sanatorium railway station to Chitlapakkam and Velachery Main Road.
“In the absence of connectivity, thousands of commuters from Chitlapakkam depend on private vehicles to reach the railway station,” he says.
At a recent meeting held at Chitlapakkam, South Chennai, MP C. Rajendran and Animal Husbandry Minister T.K.M. Chinnaiya assured residents to consider operating mini buses in their locality once the State Government gives the final nod.