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Bill on statutory powers for UMTA soon

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EXPECTED: The Outer Ring Road project will have a separate corridor for buses, once the UMTA is established.
EXPECTED: The Outer Ring Road project will have a separate corridor for buses, once the UMTA is established.

Vidya Venkat

The UMTA will improve inter-modal transport systems

CHENNAI: A bill to provide statutory powers to the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) will be introduced in the forthcoming assembly session.

Transport Secretary Debendranath Sarangi told The Hindu that the Authority, a body working towards integrating various modes of transport, has already brought key infrastructure project implementation agencies of the State to work in tandem.

Once the UMTA gets its statutory powers, it will play a major role in setting up a separate corridor for buses planned on the Outer Ring Road, a project implemented by the Highways department. It will also work towards a single ticketing system for different modes of transport and improve inter-modal transport systems across the State.

The UMTA, set up in 2007, has met thrice so far. One outcome of these meetings is that the Chennai Corporation has been asked to set up bus bays on roads where it takes up widening work. Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni said following the UMTA recommendation, the civic body has started identifying roads for widening work where it can set up bus bays for the benefit of MTC as well.

“One such bay is coming up in Ayanavaram, past the Institute of Mental Health” he said. Other locations identified for this work include the areas near Ega Theatre and Valluvar Kottam on Kodambakkam High Road. “In places where there is not enough space for a bus bay, land will be acquired for it using the transferable development rights provision,” he said.

Meanwhile, commuters in the city are eagerly awaiting the single ticketing system suggested by UMTA. Ct. Shanmugam, an Adambakkam resident said the system could serve as a boon for long-distance passengers like him who patronised both buses and trains.

“During peak hours, it is impossible for passengers to switch over from bus to train mode now,” he said. “In the morning I prefer to go to Guindy to take a train to Parry’s instead of taking a bus as train is faster. But most of the time, the long queues are intimidating. A single ticketing system can make sure the switch-over from bus to train is comfortable for passengers,” he said.

The Corporation is also aiming to provide 400 new bus shelters in the city by 2010. But whether these amenities will be extended to localities coming under the limits of municipalities and panchayats close to Chennai is a moot point.

Sources in the MTC confirm that collections from buses in suburban and peri-urban areas are steady and show that a substantial proportion of the travelling public in the city comes from areas outside Chennai Corporation limits. “Amenities such as bus shelters for the benefit of city commuters can also be extended to suburbs. This can be achieved by roping in the Secretary for Municipal Administration in the UMTA,” Mr.Sarangi said.

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