Huge gap between demand and MTC’s supply, say commuters of this nerve centre of commercial activity in south Chennai
For several decades, Tambaram has been the nerve centre of commercial activity in south Chennai and its suburbs. Government buses originating here go to more than a dozen villages within a radius of about 20 km. Thousands of residents depend upon them to commute to the city for work and education, among other things.
And yet, despite an increase in services and the creation of new bus routes, commuters say not enough has been done to meet the rising demand.
Some of the most crowded routes operate from Tambaram, leading to remote villages.
From East Tambaram, buses go to Madurapakkam, Agaram Then, Ponmar, Vengaivaasal and Kaaranai. From West Tambaram, they head towards Naduveerappattu, Somangalam, Nallur and Pazhanthandalam and also ftowards Keerapakkam, Nallambakkam, Keezhakkaranai and Vengambakkam.
“A few new buses have been launched, but I have never found a place to sit and travel comfortably,” said T. Selvi (55), of Naduveerappattu village. Selvi comes to Tambaram to sell vegetables. Once her goods are sold, she goes to the wholesale market to shop. Then, laden with bags, she gets into an overcrowded bus and heads home.
Every day, there is a mad rush all along Velachery Main Road and Tambaram – Somangalam Road during the morning and evening peak hours, as school students scramble to get on to buses. The gap between demand and service is evident, as the few buses that operate at this time are completely crammed.
Commuters said that certain pockets, which for years were well connected to Broadway and T. Nagar, are now deliberately ignored by the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC).
Chitlapakkam for instance, residents said, used to have a regular bus service on route No. 52 until a few years ago. However, the route has now been discontinued and despite repeated pleas to MTC, the transport department and even the Chief Minister’s cell, no action has been taken, they said. were of no avail as services from their town had completely stopped.
Along Velachery Main Road, commuters said that until Rajiv Gandhi Salai became an IT hub, the bus A51 to the High Court plied frequently. But now, T51 (East Tambaram to Thiruvanmiyur via OMR) has taken its place. This, commuters said was a perfect example of the MTC’s imbalance of services as buses to far-flung villages were now limited.
MTC staff however, said every day, more than 450 services operated on this route.
Another complaint was MTC’s launching of new routes to destinations such as Mamallapuram and Wallajahbad that were already well served by the Villupuram division of the TN State Transport Corporation. “MTC is competing with another government corporation instead of focusing its energies on serving high-demand routes within city limits and new areas that are developing in the extended suburbs,” said T. Sadasivam, a pensioner and a resident of West Tambaram.
Many commuters in and around Tambaram, while acknowledging that the frequency of bus services in certain routes had increased, said MTC had done little to improve passenger comfort.
MTC officials said they operated 120 trips between Tambaram and Agaram Then, 40 trips between Tambaram and Naduveerappattu and 32 trips to Karanai, Ponmar and Madurapakkam. Operation of services during non-peak hours would only result in poor revenue collections, an MTC official said.