A two-feet tall, oval-shaped mud pot inside the cramped time-office at the bus terminus in Mint, north Chennai, is the lone source of drinking water for more than a lakh commuters who board buses there every day.
Every day, at least 540 trips are made by the 96 buses that operate from the terminus, carrying thousands of commuters from Mint and adjoining areas like Seven Wells, George Town, Basin Bridge and Old Washermenpet.
Sadly, except for the buses and commuters, the Mint terminus has little to boast of. There are no shelters, water taps, toilets, lighting or schedule boards. Commuters are left to their own devices to shelter themselves from the sweltering heat or rains. The lone public toilet is a few hundred metres away from the terminus.
“The terminus is one of the oldest in old Madras and major facilities, including the Central railway station, are located within a few kilometres of it. It is easy to reach the main city from the terminus,” said K. Shankar, a commuter.
The Mint bus terminus, as the Vallalar Nagar facility is popularly known, after the first mint was operated by the British there, is a transport hub with services to remote parts of the northern neighbourhood of the city.
Tucked between an under-construction flyover and a civic body-run school, the terminus was moved to the existing open space three years ago after work on the Rs. 23-crore four-lane flyover began in June 2010.
The flyover will connect Old Jail Road and Basin Bridge Road and is aimed at decongesting Mint junction.
“If you wait for a few minutes at the terminus, the dust from the construction site envelopes you. In fact, many commuters prefer to wait near the Corporation school to board buses rather than at the terminus,” said S. Mahalakshmi, a commuter.
“Inordinate delay in the completion of the flyover has added to commuters’ woes,” said an MTC official.
The tin sheet-roofed time office at the terminus also serves as a rest room for bus drivers and conductors.
Though nearly 100 buses operate from the terminus, the facility has parking space for just 20 buses at any given time.
As a result, many buses park on the roadside and in the open plots nearby resulting in traffic chaos in the morning and evening hours.