Of the funds sanctioned for 1,100 buses, 20 % for AC buses
CHENNAI: It is 2.30 p.m, the sun is at its merciless peak and passengers waiting at the Semmenchery bus stop are tired. But as soon as an air-conditioned bus of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation on 19B route arrives at the stop, almost all of them jump in.
The 30 air-conditioned bus services operating in the city right now have come as major relief during the summer, passengers said.
G. Priya, an engineering college student, said that though the 19B service was not frequent, she took the bus whenever she got it. “For someone who likes reading books while travelling, like I do, AC buses are fun. It is a hassle-free ride, I usually get seats and it’s nice to listen to FM Radio too,” she said.
Shankar Narayanan, a BPO employee, said AC buses were a good way to attract passengers who did not mind spending an extra buck to travel comfortably. “The government should increase these services as it can help reduce the number of private cars on city roads and reduce traffic congestion,” he said.
Passengers also find the AC buses cheaper and safer alternative to autorickshaws. “If I take an AC bus from Thiruvanmiyur to LIC, I pay Rs.25, but for the same distance I’d end up paying Rs.150 if I took an autorickshaw,” Mr. Narayanan said.
Currently AC bus services are available on several routes, including 15B Koyambedu to Broadway, A51 East Tambaram to High Court, D70 Velachery to Ambattur Industrial Estate, A1 Thiruvanmiyur to Central and 21G Broadway to Tambaram.
MTC officials are hopeful that the patronage for AC buses would only improve further this summer.
MTC Operations Manager V. Babu said the collections from AC buses had improved by 20 per cent in the past few days. “Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Scheme, the MTC has received funds for 1,100 buses. We have decided to allocate 20 per cent of the sanctioned amount for AC buses,” he said. The MTC has introduced 53 non-AC summer special buses on Sunday, a senior MTC official said. These buses would ply from different parts of the city to popular tourist spots such as Anna Square, Kovalam, Mamallapuram and Vandalur Zoo. These special buses will operate on all holidays and weekends from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., the official said.