How does MTC decide bus routes in the city? RATIONALISATION OF BUS ROUTES IN CHENNAI In the past, Chennai had a robust network of buses, but the city suffers from alack of enough buses at present. Pic : Aruna Ganesh/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY SA 2.0) When it comes to bus services in the city, there seems to be a wide and clear gap between what residents want and what they get. A recent newspaper report highlighted the intensifying public call for resumption of small buses on route S along the Chrompet-Madambakkam route, that were stopped three years ago. When members of a residents association in Chitlapakkam ﬁled a petition with the CM Cell, they received a reply saying services had been stopped due to poor patronage. Yet, there are many commuters who say that they were beneﬁtted by these buses that used to run at minute intervals. Another example comes from Ambattur, one of the zones to be brought under Chennai Corporation as
recently as in 2011 and a prominent industrial area within city limits today. Ask citizens here, and you ﬁnd a lot of discontent brewing over the lack of public transport options and the rescheduling of bus services in particular. “There were a lot of bus routes starting from and terminating at Ambattur bus terminus. Over the past seven years, the number of such buses has gone down steadily, both because of space constraints within the terminus facility and shifting political focus says R Ramalingam, a civic activist from Ambattur. Some of the bus routes that originated from the Ambattur bus terminal are BB, D, and 27. These buses, with slightly altered route numbers, now pass through the Ambattur bus terminus but that has brought its own diﬃculties. The frequency of some of the routes has been reduced and the buses are always crowded by the time they reach our terminus says R Senthil, who is a regular commuter on Route 47D. Another bus regular, R Sankaran from Nanganallur, has a similar complaint as he relates his diﬃculties in reaching Alandur Metro from his residence in Moovarasampet. Since early last year, even before the lockdown was imposed, the number of S buses starting from Alandur Metro to Moovarasampet via Pazhavanthagal Railway station has been reduced. Now we are back to normalcy, and yet one has to wait for long intervals to spot the bus he adds. Clearly, this is a problem faced by citizens residing in several pockets of the city. But why According to an oﬃcial from MTC, the dip infrequency is due to the lack of adequate numbers of buses. “Therefore, the number of buses will be reduced along routes that do not generate adequate revenue. Those buses will be reassigned in the routes that have high demand, while rationalising the route the oﬃcial adds. The latter approach, however, has a fundamental loophole according to experts. When we look at public transport facilities like buses, it has to beneﬁt people, for which the transport agency cannot expect revenue. The number of buses should be increased to ensure the rationalisation exercise beneﬁts people across different localities of the city says Sumana Narayanan, senior researcher, Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG).