Cities

The sunbathing commuters

Facing the heat.

Facing the heat.  

Oh no, this is not a vacation! They are sweating it out, waiting for buses at the temporary stop near the Vijayanagar Junction

On a scorching afternoon, commuters stand near a flex board, and pointedly and expectantly look in one direction. The board is standing where a bus shelter should be. It asks bus drivers to stop, telling them the open space is indeed a bus stop.

That is the plight of commuters waiting at this “bus stop”, not too far from the Velachery Main Road-Velachery Bypass Road Junction. It is also known as the Vijayanagar Junction.

It is a halting point for buses heading towards Pallikaranai, Medavakkam and Tambaram. It is a temporary arrangement that came about due to the ongoing flyover-construction around the Vijayanagar bus terminus.

As there had been frequent instances of bus drivers ignoring this “new stop”, the J7 Velachery Traffic Police put up the flex board urging MTC bus drivers to halt and board passengers.

Nearby, a small board, said to have been put up by someone working in a nearby establishment in public interest, directs people to the bus stop.

The sunbathing commuters

The flex board installed by the traffic police may have solved one problem. But another, a huge at that, remains.

These bus commuters still have to deal with the problem of waiting at a bus stop without a shelter, under a sun that is capable of giving anyone a three-Aspirin headache.

As this is a temporary bus stop that will be in use until the completion of the flyover project, commuters held back their anger and decided to tolerate the hardship. But now, with a harsh summer already under way, they can’t help but demand a shelter.

R. Nagarajan (72), of Madipakkam North East Residents Welfare Association says, “Bus shelters are the only refuge for waiting passengers, during summer and monsoon. The heat is killing us but there isn’t even a bit of shade for us to stand under. There aren’t any trees or shops too nearby to provide shelter from the heat. Many use an umbrella or cover their heads with a cloth.”

“As the State Highways Department is executing the flyover work, for which this stop was shifted, it could have put up a temporary shelter for the benefit of commuters,” says Nagarajan.

S. Sam Bennett, J7 Velachery Traffic Inspector, says the department installed the board in public interest after commuters were left clueless about the location.

“This bus stop is only a stop-gap arrangement and once the construction of the twin flyover is complete and the Vijayanagar bus terminus is renovated, commuters need not wait here and can board from the terminus itself,” he adds.

Asked if a temporary bus shelter could be facilitated, he said he would consult with the officials of the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Traffic Department.

He said that a bus shelter might affect the flow of traffic but he would take steps to install at least an umbrella-type shelter so that commuters would have some respite from the heat.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 2:25:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/the-sunbathing-commuters/article26664179.ece

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