S. Abraham Mills

New buses must be operated to distant places

MADURAI: As many as 300 low-floored luxury buses with electronic name board, being kept ready at the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) depot, will be inducted into the city bus fleet any time soon.

These buses will sure bring a relief to the public travelling in crowded buses besides obviating the need to take a ride in recklessly-driven share autorickshaws.

A popular demand among the commuters is that instead of deploying the majority of these buses on the cash-cow routes of Arapalayam-Mattuthavani-Tirumangalam circuit (77 series, 700 and 48 series) the TNSTC-Madurai division must introduce new routes in an imaginative way.

It can take a leaf out of the innovative ways of city bus network in Chennai where T. Nagar has been made a hub for plying long-distance ‘city bus services’ to places hitherto covered by moffussil buses.

By plying buses to Kancheepuram, Sriperumpudur, Perampakkam, Chengalpattu and Tiruporur (places in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts), commuters need not change buses at Kathipara Junction, Porur, Vadapalani, Koyambedu bus terminus and Adyar. Many such services are operated from Broadway bus stand and Mylapore as well.

Likewise, in Madurai, city buses with limited stops can be operated from Periyar bus stand to Kottampatti, Tirupattur, Sivaganga, Manamadurai, Aruppukottai, Virudhunagar, Srivilliputtur, Usilampatti, Nilakottai and Dindigul. These are places from which a large number of people come to various places in the city for work, studies and business every day.

Focus on road repairs

People will not mind paying more for the ‘deluxe bus fare’ since they have to anyway buy a steep-priced ticket from Mattuthavani, Arapalayam and Tirumangalam to reach Periyar bus stand and other places.

M. Amanullah, president, Citizens’ Association for Traffic Improvement in Madurai (CATIM), says such services will greatly benefit the public since passengers, especially with women and children, can travel to the heart of the city without changing buses. “The authorities must first focus on repairing pot-holed roads and removing encroachments,” Dr. Amanullah says.

Neglected east-west

Another factor is the over-emphasis on the north-south routes. From Tirumangalam, Tirunagar and Tirupparankundram in the south and Mattuthavani, K. Pudur, P and T Nagar and Anna Nagar in the north, one can take buses to most of the places in the city and suburbs.

It is a fixation the authorities have from the PRC days when bus services on 2A, 3B, 4, 5, 7A and 11B routes had a high frequency much to the annoyance of those using other routes waiting for ages at the Periyar bus stand.

The transport authorities can set things right, at least now with the new buses, by linking Pandikoil (Ring Road), Tiruppuvanam, Viraganoor (Ring Road), Anuppanadi and Teppakulam in the east, besides Mandela Nagar (Ring Road), with Thuvariman, Chekkanoorani and Bypass Road in the west, along with Sholavandan, Vadipatti and Alanganallur (Palamedu road).

On the east-west route, instead of plying buses via either Arapalayam bus stand or Periyar bus stand as is being done now with the very few services, the seldom used and shorter New Jail Road and Sellur road (since the rail over-bridge will be ready in a few months) must be utilised to make optimum use of time and fuel.

Emphasis must also be given to operate buses to various points from Tiruppalai, Surya Nagar-Alagarkoil, Karuppayoorani, Chinthamani-Virathanoor (Ring Road) and Avaniapuram. Some of the bus services can be extended to High Court Bench or Tirumogur to avoid congestion at Mattuthavani bus stand.

V. Pitchai, district secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), says the ticket fare of the super-deluxe low-floored (SLF) buses is exorbitantly high. The authorities must fix a reasonable fare — like the LSS fare — so as to cater to poor people as well.

Fearsome fare

It is a norm that people using public transport increases by 15 to 25 per cent every year. But, ever since these SLF services were introduced in Madurai, the number of people travelling by buses has come down drastically, indicating that they have chosen other modes of transport.

“People have realised that instead of travelling by SLF buses with over-priced fare every day, it pays to buy a two-wheeler or take a mini-bus or share-autorickshaw,” Mr. Pitchai says