Chennai's bus operator appears to have learnt nothing from the OMR student tragedy

It is business as usual for Chennai's Metropolitan Transport Corporation. The buses that are equipped with doors continue to be operated the same old way. The Corporation is blithely unconcerned that the death of four young students on Old Mahabalipuram Road at Kandanchavadi has led to a public outcry, and occasioned a suo motu review by the Madras High Court. The doors of several buses were open on Wednesday.

This picture of a 'deluxe' bus taken today, opposite the new Secretariat-Assembly complex building on Anna Salai tells the story. Although the buses passed the nearest stop, the doors remained open. The natural question that arises is this: are the doors faulty or is the crew ignoring the rule?

Two years ago, the High Court had directed the Tamil Nadu Government to consider providing all buses with doors, to prevent footboard travel. Obviously, the court's call has fallen on deaf ears in the corridors of power. Let us see how it views the indifference of the MTC now that it has had deadly consequences.

The MTC has been progressively getting bogged down in its inefficiencies, because of lack of external oversight. The accident on the Old Mahabalipuram Road is the shocking result of the Corporation's indifference to passenger safety, and the absence of monitoring by its own supervisors as well as statutory agencies.

Incidentally, passengers can complain about such matters to MTC at the complaints hotline: +919383337639 and +919445030516. It is of course likely that you will get a response only if you are lucky. If you do, insist on getting a complaint docket number, which will help with the follow-up.

You may find this piece from The Hindu's Urban Jungle column also of interest: A shoddy job on buses.

An update: On Wednesday evening, several buses with doors were not operating them during peak hour towards Broadway, and commuters were hanging on to railings near the footboard. Several services were overflowing.

When this writer contacted the MTC complaints cell, they said the Corporation was looking at all the doors and fixing them. When two fleet numbers of buses were given to the complaints section for non-working doors, the personnel said they would pass them on for 'repairs.' When asked for a complaint registration number, there was initial hesitation, and finally it was recorded as No. 1 of 12.12.2012.

"Was there no other complaint at all today," this writer asked the operator. "Nothing of this nature," was his cryptic reply.

On Thursday, The Hindu commented editorially on the terrible MTC bus mishap. The editorial, "Doors make buses safer" is here.