Many small bus services in the suburbs ply badly maintained routes

The small bus services in the city are increasingly found to be solving road connectivity problems. However, commuters say that if the buses continue to ply badly maintained roads, it will only be a matter of time before they break down.

The first 50 small buses were rolled out in October 2013 and the second 50 hit the roads in February this year. While most of the services are concentrated in the southern and western suburbs, some ply the city. Interior areas of localities such as Vengambakkam, Korattur, Avadi, Mittanamalli, Karanodai and Madhavaram, which had poor road connectivity, have been benefitted by the small buses.

But, commuters, especially in the suburbs, want the civic bodies to improve the condition of the roads that fall in the routes of small buses. “The buses are very beneficial and are generating good revenue. But the problem is the condition of roads in the suburbs. Passengers, especially the elderly, feel very uncomfortable while travelling on such routes,” said T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist from Pattabiram.

Unlike the regular Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses, there are no spare vehicles to replace a small bus plying a particular locality. Residents point out that a bus continuously plying bad roads can easily get damaged. “The chassis of a small bus is lower compared to the regular buses, and is more vulnerable to repair. Both the buses and roads should be maintained properly,” said P. Senthil Kumar, a resident of Ayyapathangal.

Though the MTC claims that a lot of people who earlier used to travel by share autorickshaws have now shifted to small buses, it has not taken any steps to provide spare buses. “If a bus plying a particular locality becomes damaged, the service has to be stopped. The commuters will be put to hardship,” S. Manoharan, a resident of Karanodai .

Meanwhile, MTC sources said that more small buses may be introduced in the future as the service has been generating good revenue. “On an average, we get Rs. 5,000 on one route. Some MTC officials in suburban areas have requested the local bodies to improve the roads so that the passengers can have a smooth ride,” said a source.