The 100 mini-buses that will soon roll out, as per Minister for Transport Senthil Balaji's announcement in the Assembly on Tuesday, will not only cater to the suburbs but also many parts of the city which do not have proper bus connectivity. However, experts feel that they should not overlap with the existing Metropolitan Transport Corporation Limited (MTC) routes as it will serve no purpose.
Last year, the Transport Department at Anna University conducted a feasibility study for mini-buses. “We considered only areas located half a kilometre beyond either side of MTC bus routes. We then segregated some areas including marshlands and forest areas. Then, the routes were decided based on the population density and where roads are not suitable for running big buses,” said a source.
The mini-buses were suggested for areas which do not have any other mode of connecting transport like autorickshaws. “These include places such as Nanganallur, parts of North Chennai and other areas that do not have proper connectivity with bus stands or railway stations. The mini-buses can be run in these pockets too,” said K.P Subramanian, former professor at Anna University's Urban Engineering department.
Experts stress the fact that these buses should not run along the MTC routes. “For instance, in the suburbs, Maxi cabs ply on the bus routes and not on interior roads. This does not serve any purpose,” said V. Subramanian, founder of Traffic and Transportation Forum.
Apart from this, the frequency of the mini-buses should be once every 10 to 15 minutes during peak hours and once every 20 minutes during lean hours. “The infrastructure facilities such as waiting area for the mini buses should also be good and off the main road,” said Mr. K.P. Subramanian. Commuters also feel that the mini-buses will be a boon for those in the suburbs and city. “Now autorickshaws are ruling the roost in areas like Nanganallur, where there are no share autorickshaws. The mini-buses can stop this exploitation,” said Mr. V. Subramanian.
However experts warn that initially, the revenue from the mini-buses may not be considerable although the situation will improve over time. “The revenue collection will be good only during peak hours unlike in the city where people use the buses even during lean hours. This should not prompt the transport corporation to drop the services. But gradually more people will shift from the city to suburbs if connectivity is good and the revenues will also increase,” said the source.