Running against time

Lack of adequate running time for buses has resulted in drivers creating terror on roads, writes V.S. Palaniappan

Even as the traffic police and the transport department are making efforts to bring about discipline on roads, bus drivers continue to terrorise fellow motorists.

Traffic managers need to take a look at the running time of buses if the problem should be addressed. The city has grown in leaps and bounds with suburbs fast expanding. While the road space remains the same or in some places is shrinking owing to encroachments, 80,000 vehicles get registered a year in Coimbatore alone. The population of bus commuters has also increased manifold.

The running time for every bus is fixed when permits are issued to them and it is never revised. But over the years, the number of bus stops has increased besides the number of traffic signals. None of the city roads ensures a smooth drive for the buses at an average speed because of congestion and road inter-junctions.

For example, a running time of 60 minutes (with 10 minutes of grace time) for route number 1C from Ondipudur to Vadavalli covering 24 km is proving to be impossible these days. The number of stops a driver has to observe and the signals he has to wait will consume 35 to 40 per cent of the running time. The time taken by passengers at bus stops has also increased

considerably (for alighting and boarding).

At least 60 per cent of the buses on town routes face this problem. There is a pertinent need to increase the running time at least by 10 minutes to 15 minutes. In many cases, the drivers blame their superiors for penalising them for not maintaining the time. They lament that if they fail to maintain the time, they are penalised. Even if they maintain the time, they are blamed for speeding.

Hence, the drivers resorting to rash driving either cause accidents or turn out to be a cause for accidents involving other vehicles. They turn impatient at the signals and start jumping the signals or overshoot the stop line. At signals, the drivers start moving even before the signal turns green.

Though discussed at the road safety-cum-traffic advisory committee meetings, the issue of revising the timings had never received any positive response. Enquiries with the transport department reveal that a detailed survey is on to identify the routes and the parameters for deciding the running time for each town bus. Until then, the motorists will have to keep their fingers crossed and thank their stars if they return home safely.

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