Chennai

On a bus ride with frontline workers from the Corporation

Near the three-storey Corporation Zonal Office in Valasaravakkam, a staff member blows a whistle, drawing the attention of six MTC crew members to a ready breakfast.

Rising much before the fabled lark does, and stepping out of their homes around 4 a.m., the day begins really early for these MTC crew members. It’s a fulfilling assignment they are tasked with, though: Ferrying frontline workers — to be specific, Corporation workers — to their work spots. The MTC workers are back from this work around 8.30 a.m.

A spacious garage near the Zone 11 office on the busy Arcot Road has been turned into a waiting spot for the MTC buses and its drivers, and their buses.

The garage is said to have once served as a makeshift playground for the children in the neighbourhood.

Besides being a parking zone for the buses, the space allows frontline workers, health staff, sanitary workers and civic officials of the zone, to board or deboard from the buses.

Each of these six MTC buses is being operated on specific routes covering many zones on its way to the garage in Valasaravakkam.

“The vast open space enables the frontline workers and the crew members to maintain social distancing. By being parked there instead of by the roadside, the buses are kept safe,” says S. Pandian, an MTC driver.

The shift for the six MTC crew starts around 4.30 a.m as they drive their buses from depots like Broadway, Vadapalani and Avadi to various parts of the city including Ennore, Washermenpet, North Beach, Egmore, Vadapalani, T. Nagar, Kodambakkam, Poonamallee, Porur and Kundrathur, and pick up frontline workers.

MTC buses are being operated in this manner for the benefit of frontline workers in all zones of Greater Chennai Corporation. Valasaravakkam (Zone-11) is among the zones that occupy the upper half of the table in terms of the number of MTC buses assigned for them.

The identity cards of the Corporation staff are checked before they are allowed to board the buses.

Those without face masks can’t set foot in the buses. Besides, in each of the six MTC buses, provision has been made to have hand sanitisers displayed prominently for the benefit of the travelling frontline workers.

Only half the seating-capacity of these buses will be filled. The vehicles are disinfected twice a day by the civic staff and the MTC at its depot.

“Our last trip for the day is at 2 p.m. We work on all days including Sundays (complete lockdown),” says another MTC driver.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 6:17:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/on-a-bus-ride-with-frontline-workers-from-the-corporation/article32305902.ece

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