Commuters in the city may soon see improved buses on the roads, as Metropolitan Transport Corporation Limited (Metropolitan Transport Corporation Limited) is set to get four new depots to park and maintain their vehicles.
Mini buses too, which are to be introduced soon, will be parked at the MTC depots.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, on Wednesday, announced the setting up of an additional 25 bus depots across the State. Of these, four are for the city. “The depots will be in Thiruverkadu, Kannagi Nagar, Besant Nagar and MKB Nagar. Most of them will be near the existing terminus in their respective localities,” said a senior transport official. “We have to float tenders and get funds too,” he added.
According to the MTC website, at present there are 25 bus depots for a fleet strength of 3,497.
“It has been nearly ten years since new depots were constructed. That is why one can see buses parked along roads in many localities such as T. Nagar, Mandavelli and Adyar, as the depots get overcrowded. This also causes problems for residents of the locality,” said the official.
As space is an issue, buses are parked in cramped positions, and it becomes difficult for the staff to clean the vehicles properly or maintain them. “Ideally there should be a maximum of 100 buses per depot. If there are more than 100, it becomes a burden for the branch manager, as he cannot manage all the vehicles properly. More depots will lead to a better workload sharing,” said the official.
If more depots are opened, the number of dead kilometres (trip from depot to terminus without any commuters) will also decrease. “Ideally the depots should be next to the terminus,” said the official.
Experts say the setting up of more depots is a good move, but caution that such decisions should not get entangled in bureaucratic delays. “There should be a senior officer to ensure that the announcements are implemented. The government should also try having two depots in Koyambedu,” said a source.
K.P. Subramanian, former professor of Anna University's urban engineering department said that additional depots would also improve punctuality of service.
“Even though services have been extended, the depots have not. So the vehicles have to be brought to the starting points from different areas. This affects the timing of the buses. If there are more depots, the vehicles can reach their destinations faster,” he said.
Bus depots are important now, as even mini buses will be parked in MTC depots. “The mini buses will be parked in the depot closest to their operational area. Tenders for the mini buses will be floated shortly,” said a transport official.