Nearly 70 per cent of bus stops in the city lack shelters; work on 642 modern structures to begin shortly
The scorching heat has forced city residents to retreat indoors but for most bus commuters, there is no escape. Due to lack of proper bus shelters in several places, they have no option but to brave the blazing sun.
There are over 2,000 bus stops served by the MTC, but only around 1,150 bus shelters are authorised by the Corporation across the 15 zones of Thiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Tondiarpet, Royapuram, Thiru-Vi-Ka-Nagar, Ambattur, Anna Nagar, Teynampet, Kodambakkam, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Adyar, Perungudi and Sholinganallur.
Many bus shelters maintained by a private consortium are under litigation and prove to be a stumbling block in the modernisation of bus shelters.
According to experts, nearly 70 per cent of bus stops in the city have no shelters. “In newly added areas like Nanganallur, Madipakkam, and Ramapuram, there are no proper bus stops. People are forced to stand by the roadside in the heat,” said V. Subramani, founder of Traffic and Transportation Forum.
Even in the old Chennai Corporation limits, there are bus stops that either lack proper shelters or are encroached upon. “There is no shelter inside the Central Railway Station premises, even though lots of commuters board buses from this point,” said T. Ravikumar, president of All India Railway and Bus Passengers Association.
G. Nirmala, boarding 21-G bus at Central Railway Station on Wednesday morning, said it was extremely difficult to wait for a bus. “I travel from Korattur on the EMU and then board the bus to reach my workplace in Mylapore. Commuters, especially women, are put to great hardship during monsoon. Though there is very good integration of two modes of public transport at Chennai Central, it lacks facilities,” she said.
There are no bus shelters opposite High Court on NSC Bose Road either. “Another bus stop opposite Linghi Chetty Street has a shelter but does not have routes mentioned on it,” said Mr. Ravikumar.
Another problem is encroachment of shelters. “The shelter opposite Government General Hospital mortuary is encroached upon by homeless people. Similar is the situation at Flower Bazaar police station bus stop,” he said.
Some bus shelters in Luz and in Foreshore Estate have also been encroached upon. “This happens because the shelters are not removed when the bus route is changed. The Chennai Corporation should remove such structures,” said Mr. Subramani.
Even as commuters complain of shortage of bus shelters, in some areas there is a surplus. “You find three or four shelters in a row. Some of them are unofficial. One such cluster is near Kathipara Junction when one comes from the airport side. Another one is at the forest office near Raj Bhavan.
Chennai Corporation officials said repeated retender of bus shelter modernisation work over the past two years had delayed the commissioning of new shelters. The work on 642 modern bus shelters will start soon. Retender for work on the remaining shelters will be finalised this week, said an official.