MTC’s route shuffle leaves commuters stranded on the road


Members of the public complain that routes were withdrawn without any prior intimation and that the services have been cut drastically

The success of any expansion of the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) depends to a large extent on the ability of providers of public transportation to help fulfil the commuting needs of residents in far flung areas.

While the core part of the city has multi-layered transport facilities including the Metro Rail services, several of the suburbs still depend substantially on bus services.

The Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC), which is Chennai’s sole public bus operator, has been reworking a number of bus routes following the induction of more than 700 new buses, by extending some routes or shifting them to a different bus terminus.

Cut in services opposed

While the extension and shifting of bus services have been largely welcomed by the residents, many of them said the routes should not be entirely shifted to a different locality and were also opposed to reductions in the number of bus services.

In several areas like Virugambakkam, Valasaravakkam, Nesapakkam, Maduravoyal, Ayappanthangal and old Avadi, in the western suburbs, and Sithalapakkam, Mambakkam, Perumbakkam, Nemillichery and west Velachery, residents mainly depend on buses to reach their destinations.

N. Krishnan, a resident of Nesapakkam, complained about the MTC’s decision to withdraw bus route 37D from K.K. Nagar to Mint, which had been operated since 1978. Pointing to the difficulties posed by the decision, he said commuters were now forced to change buses to reach their destinations. “The MTC should revive this route as it was earning a good revenue,” he asserted.

S. Vaidyanathan, a regular commuter from Avadi, said the bus operator’s decision to truncate the 41D (Avadi to Mandaveli) bus service defied logic as it was hard to see how the public benefitted from the move. Complaining that more than 18 services had been reduced on this route, he said the buses operated via Korattur, Anna Nagar West, Aminjikarai, DMS, Teynampet and Nandanam, had a good number of commuters using it regularly.

Residents were also upset with the MTC’s decision to shift some buses allotted for a particular route without any prior information. T. Sadagopan, who was waiting for a 27H at the Avadi bus terminus to proceed to Anna Square, discovered after a long wait that the bus service had been withdrawn. Without any advance information, the MTC had withdrawn the service and was instead operating the 40H service on the route. Similarly, he also complained about the reduction of buses on route B70 between Pattabiram and Guindy.

Like him, many other passengers across the city have been left confused due to the unannounced cancellations and changes of route in bus operations. Residents of Kumananchavadi said the 49A bus services operated from Poonamalee to T. Nagar through K.K Nagar and Ashok Pillar had been stopped and replaced with 12M plying from Ayyapanthangal to Luz.

Residents of Thirumudivakkam, a fast developing residential-cum-industrial layout located beyond Thiruneermalai, found themselves completely cut off from any kind of access to public transport because of the corporation’s decision to withdraw the 55A service. Bus 55A, plying from Pallavaram to Pazhanthandalam via Pammal, Anakaputhur, Kundrathur and Thirumudivakkam, was stopped because of the construction of a causeway across the Adyar river, MTC officials said.

Residents of Keelkattalai also rued the decision to stop services on route 52K to Broadway. The bus, which operated through Nanganallur, St. Thomas Mount, Guindy and Central, helped in providing direct bus connectivity to the commercial part of the city, especially for office-goers.

For their part, the commuters in the interior parts of the city, despite having different commuting options, complained about the reduction in bus services to Gopalapuram, Mandaveli and T. Nagar.

Residents of T. Nagar said that very few bus services were now available from the bus terminus to reach Anna Salai. The 5B service to Mylapore had been reduced drastically. Similar is the case of 3A, 45A, 45B, and 5K.

“Now 3A bus route is operated till Secretariat,” said S. M Chellaswami, treasurer, Tamil Nadu Elders Welfare Association and member of of North Gopalapuram Residents Welfare Association. “We have to change buses to reach Chennai Central. The MTC should operate the old routes through Gopalapuram,” he added.

Studying feedback

MTC officials said that 3,500 buses were plying on more than 670 routes all over the city. Confirming that some bus services had been reduced due to poor patronage, an official said a separate planning department operates at the headquarters, where several representations seeking bus services to the petitioners’ localities are received. The officials go through those letters and at the same time collect data about collections during the peak hours and non-peak hours and the level of patronage in each and every service, before deciding to re-allocate services according to the needs of the residents.

On more than 200 routes, the frequency of buses was being maintained at three minutes. “Many routes also have been renamed and extended. We are making optimum use of the existing fleet,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:10:58 AM |

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