The editorial “Doors make buses safer” (Dec. 13), on the death of four students riding on the footboard, says that at the root of the problem is grossly underfunded public transport. It is part of the problem, not the root. The root is the culture of aggressive lawlessness on roads.
Correcting this is a major task, ranging from driving instruction to law enforcement on the streets. Education is a key word, and the media can play a huge part in this. It requires a long-term commitment to driver education. The Hindu can help.
Once, riding my two-wheeler, I was forced to jump the signal by an MTC bus. Had I resisted doing so and stopped at the signal, I would have been run over. This is the attitude of drivers of MTC buses and other commercial vehicles.
As a first step to prevent such tragic deaths, the Chennai Metro Transport Corporation should provide mechanical doors in all buses. The frequencies of buses should be increased, particularly during peak hours. Without paying attention to the basic issues, there is no point in calling for disciplinary action against footboard travellers. Only a small percentage travels on the footboard for the fun of it, whereas a majority is forced to do so for want of space.
Suddenly everybody has started talking about overcrowding in buses. Even the Madras High Court wants students travelling on the footboard expelled. Footboard travelling in Tamil Nadu has been happening for years. You can punish those who travel on the footboard even when there is sufficient place in the bus. What about those who don’t get space?
In my village, for instance, the frequency of buses is very low. Only one bus plies during peak hours. One can’t afford to miss it. You can see many buses tilting because of overcrowding. The government should introduce more services. Chennai needs thrice the number of buses it runs now.
Keywords: public transport., commuter safety, Chennai, road safety, Automotive Research Association of India, Motor Vehicles rules, OMR bus accident, bus accident, MTC bus, footboard travel, passenger safety