In the first phase of a project aimed at providing better connectivity in the city, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa rolled out 50 ‘small buses’ at a function in the city on Wednesday.
Speaking at the event, she said the buses would benefit localities that do not have proper bus connectivity to the nearest bus depots and railway stations. The buses, which are light green in colour, are in ‘S’ series with the route numbers ranging from S1 to S62. With 27 seats, they will ply 20 routes, most of which are in the suburbs. Sources said the minimum fare is set at Rs. 5 and the maximum would be Rs. 9.
Transport department officials said more buses would be rolled out in the next few months.
“They will operate for short distances. The number of trips has not been decided yet. In the coming days, the charts and timings will be decided. We have been told there will not be a night service,” said a source in the department.
Commuters, especially senior citizens and disabled persons, have welcomed the move. S. M. Chellasamy of the Tamil Nadu Senior Citizens Welfare Association pointed out that the low floor of the buses would be convenient for the elderly.
However, residents of the western suburbs have expressed disappointment as their localities have not been covered. Senior Metropolitan Transport Corporation Limited (MTC) officials said the routes would be decided based on requests. “If the residents submit petitions, we will consider them,” said an official.
In May 2012, State transport minister V. Senthil Balaji announced in the Assembly that mini buses would be introduced in the city. The service was expected to begin early this year, but a slew of problems, including the finalisation of the tenders, delayed the rollout. “The buses are specially ordered, so it took time to build the chassis of these buses,” said the source.