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On buses, doors stay ajar

Vivek Narayanan
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On Wednesday evening, in just 15 minutes, starting from 6 p.m., 18 buses were found violating basic safety rules at the Simpsons bus stop.

Out of this, over five were found either with open automatic doors or faulty ones. Others were not halting properly at the bus bays. Though the commuter rush was heavy on Kaanum Pongal day, there were no officials to monitor the buses.

Notwithstanding official claims that action has been taken against drivers for not closing automatic doors in Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) Limited buses, the facility does not seem to serve the purpose, thanks to lack of official supervision.

Though it is stated that fines have been collected from 56 MTC drivers in several buses, the doors remain open, permitting footboard travel in many buses. According to official statistics, of MTC’s total fleet of 3,600 buses, the doors in 1,874 buses are in working condition.

“In many, ropes are used to fasten the doors. This does not serve any purpose,” said N. Sadagopan, a commuter who uses 21G regularly.

Though MTC officials and time keepers at bus terminals advise commuters, through loudspeakers, not to travel on footboards, the open doors seem to prompt commuters to travel on the steps. “The conductors say that the doors are not repaired despite complains to depot officials. Though in some buses the doors appear closed, a huge gap can be found between them. A child can easily fall through it,” said L. Siva Kumar, another commuter.

Another complaint is that the doors do not close smoothly. “They just slam. The driver, who has the control, should close them after the conductor gives the signal to proceed. Sometimes the front door opens and the back door does not. This shows lack of maintenance,” said T. Ravikumar, president of the All India rail and bus passengers’ welfare association.

Once the bus enters the depot, the drivers note the defects found in the vehicle in a log sheet. “The officials concerned have to rectify the fault. This is not done in a full-fledged manner,” said a source from the MTC.

Commuters complain that officials do not bother to monitor the condition of the buses. “The checking inspectors can monitor if the bus doors are open, whether the interiors are clean or whether they halt in the allotted bus bays. This is never done,” said the source.

Meanwhile, the MTC has asked its officials to identify buses with defective automatic doors. “If the fault is not rectified within a stipulated period of time, action will be taken against the concerned official. Tenders will be called for if there is a need to replace the doors completely,” said the source.

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