R. Krishnamoorthy

Buses behind schedule by four to five hours

TIRUCHI: Those travelling to far-off destinations, particularly towards Chennai, for joining their families for Deepavali celebrations boarded the buses on the festival eve with their fingers crossed, not knowing for certain whether they would be able to reach their destinations on time. The same was the case for passengers travelling southwards from Chennai.

Over the past couple of days, buses have been behind schedule by four to five hours due to traffic holdups.

A heavy traffic jam in Chennai perpetuated by the human chain formation by political parties on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue to the accompaniment of rains on Thursday caused the buses to come late to Tiruchi by over four hours on Friday. Officials manning the State Express Transport Corporation, who tried in vain to explain the gravity of the situation to the passengers who had already reserved their seats, found themselves in a quandary.

Likewise, passengers proceeding towards Tiruchi, Madurai and other Southern districts had to go through a harrying time due to a major traffic hold-up on the outskirts of Villuppuram on Friday night.

The confusion was reportedly caused when several buses and lorries entered into a stretch on the side of the highway that was yet to be thrown upon for traffic.

According to eyewitnesses, the hold up stretched to more than two kilometres, and by the time the buses inched their way out of the traffic, more than four hours was lost, causing extreme anxiety to passengers.

Those travelling along with family members were the most agonised.

In most cases, passengers travel by bus only as a second choice in the event of missing out on trains.

But, since the train reservations are made well in advance, those planning for journeys at short notice have no other go than to depend on buses.

On its part, the Southern Railways has introduced some special services in anticipation of the festival rush. However, the number of travellers was simply huge and the demand far exceeded the seats available.