A. A. Michael Raj
Boarding and alighting become risky activities
Coimbatore: Buses that stop in the middle of the road are causing passengers to risk their lives when getting into and out of these vehicles.
Those who are waiting at bus stops close to major traffic junctions as well as bus termini such as Gandhipuram and Ukkadam are the worst affected. Speeding buses usually skip these stops or come to a halt right in the middle of the highway, causing passengers to dodge vehicles - usually two-wheelers - trying to overtake the bus on the left side.
Private buses sometime compete with one another to pick up passengers, with the crew of each vehicle accusing those in the other bus of not adhering to the time schedule. Usually, the bus in front stops in the middle of the road to quickly pick up a few passengers, effectively blocking the path of the bus coming behind. At night the situation turns worse, especially at locations where traffic constables are not on duty.
Two-wheelers moving on the wrong side of the road, besides those violating the `No entry' rule, add to the problems of haphazard driving by buses. Quite often at night, private buses remain parked for long periods at some bus stops, waiting for more passengers. At congested road intersections such as Town Hall, the parked buses obstruct the view of those who are waiting for other buses, causing people to crowd together in groups, almost in the middle of the road.
K. Kathirmathiyon, Secretary, Coimbatore Consumer Cause, said that the situation was chaotic outside the Coimbatore Railway Junction, where passengers waiting in the bus shelters found it very difficult to board buses. As a member of the Traffic Advisory Committee, he had raised the matter at several meetings with district officials, Government transport officials and private bus operators, over the past few years.
He said that the matter had been reported to the Transport Commissioner and action taken against 35 to 40 bus drivers. "Road transport officials should enforce the rules against erring drivers and undertake consistent efforts until the issue is settled. It is well within their power to take action even against permit holders. It is only when action against drivers results in suspension of licenses that drivers will follow the rules out of fear of losing their jobs," he said.