A Poor Man’s Deluxe Car

The Chennai city’s prime transportation line (Metropolitan Transport Corporation) seems to be getting innovative going by the day. Gone are the days when we just have bus that used to give rattling sounds, make the journey nauseating (vomiting sensation due to bad roads and strenous journey). At least from the second half of the reign of the previous Chief Minister Puratchi Thalaivi Dr. J. Jayalalitha and the current rule of Dr. Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, the transport ministers are putting some diligent and focussed efforts to provide good bus services networking nook and corner of the city.

Not everyone can afford to have a car; Not everyone can hire a call taxi or a dedicated air-conditioned travel car frequently; Not everyone can just pickup an autorickshaw. We have a real significant of middle income group in the city who still depend on this public transportation system. And we should at least thank the Transportation Department and the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) for thier focussed efforts in bringing world class bus services to reality in Chennai.

At least, I feel that Vestibule and Low-Floor-Deluxe buses look like comfortable cars for me. It is about a couple of rupees (half a US dime) more than the normal buses but the advantage you gain being comfortable journey to your destination.

Technology-wise, I also appreciate the quick route maps in MTC website which enumerates tariff, routes between specified source and destinations. The website also discusses about the luggage allowed including free allowance per passenger and other proposed plans.

Of course, with these are the plus points, it is not MTC can just take rest. There are but scores of negatives and shortcomings that they have to address too. A few of them are:

  1. Security in buses is still a challenge. Even now, you can not comfortably keep your wallet in any of the deluxe buses in shirt pocket. You have to squeeze it somewhere deep in the hidden pockets to safeguard it from pocket-pickers. We have discussed sometime back a few tips to escape from pocket pickers.
  2. Eve-teasing menace and harassment of women passengers is still reigning high at least in the suburbs. While Chennai City Traffic police is giving tall claims of having plain clothes cops supervising, I don’t think they are anywhere near success in getting the eve-teasing menace under check and control. Before something like Sarika Shah tragedy strikes, MTC can be proactive in controlling this eve-teasing menace.
  3. Under the pretext of deluxe buses, a number of little bus stops are ruthlessly shutdown by the MTC. This acutely affects regular commuters, office-goers, ladies and kids, school students, patients to hospitals and aged people. They should adopt a trick like ‘Alternate Buses; Alternate Bus Stops’ instead of having a hard and fast rule like ‘Yellow Board (LSS) buses’ would stop here; White Board (All Stop) buses would stop here’. Currently, the All Stop buses have a very little percentage share of 15 per cent of the total MTC fleet, as I learnt from a weblog. We have a discussion on this in Consumer_Voice_India over here.
  4. Maintenance of buses is serious lacking. Already the very new buses too have started getting so much dust on the windows. The cleaning personnel at the bus station should be strictly advised and trained to clean and maintain the buses. This rule has to be enforced strictly. We have a discussion on this topic in Consumer_Voice_India over here.
  5. The staff has to be trained to be more polite and caring for the passenger. Even yesterday, I witnessed one driver in 21L, who when we requested for a bus stop, started to bark incessantly and stopped the bus after a while as if he is doing a favor for us, when he was actually doing his duty. Every staff has to be trained to remember the following slogan always:

    “A ‘Customer’ is the most important visitor on our premises.
    He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
    He is not an interruption on our work. He is the purpose of it.
    He is not an outsider on our business. He is a part of it.
    We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

    — Mahatma Gandhi

  6. Time management in pathetic. But I am sure that this issue can not immediately be taken up since it depends on multiple factors like road traffic conditions, political meetings, route diversions etc.

I do have a suggestion regarding the problems (1) and (2). MTC can consider having a separate police force dedicated to itself instead of depending on the normal police. They can have something like MTC Police with thier own access telephone numbers dedicated only for problems in MTC buses. Dallas Area Rapid Transportation (DART) actually has this setup and you can find more details of DART police here.