In 2006, the Madras High Court ruled that the MTC must operate at least 10 disabled-friendly buses to start with
Every time, Gowrishankar waits to board a bus, it stops ahead of him.
By the time, he makes his way to the vehicle, it moves off. This is a problem faced by many disabled persons in the city. There are around a lakh disabled persons in Chennai and around 24 lakh in the State.
But over the years, the public transport system in the city has done little to facilitate a smooth ride for such persons.
In 2006, the Madras High Court ruled that the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) must operate at least 10 disabled-friendly buses to start with. But such buses hardly serve any purpose, say patrons.
“The bus must halt for a while to enable disabled persons to board. But other commuters get impatient with us,” says a disabled commuter.
As there are very few disabled-friendly buses in the city, the MTC must operate more low-floor buses similar to the airconditioned ones, say disabled commuters.
“The steps in ordinary buses are not broad enough and people like me find it hard to get in,” says Sridhar, a 26-year-old employee of Aavin, Tambaram, who lost his leg in an accident.
K. Gopinath, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Udavi Karam Association for the Welfare of Differently-Abled, says buses must have more seats for the disabled.
“As of now, there is just one seat and that too is often occupied by other passengers. We need at least three seats in all buses, including those to other districts,” he says. There is also a need for greater sensitivity among bus drivers and conductors, experts say.
“When we struggle and get near the bus, the driver starts the vehicle. The driver and conductor must be more considerate towards the disabled commuters,” says Nirmala, who runs a welfare society for the differently-abled in Pallipattu in Tiruvallur district.