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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

AC buses on OMR as city commuters ask for more...

15B; 17D; 17M; 19B; 1B; 219A; 21G; 21H; 29C; 500; 500C; 568C; 570; 599; A51; D70; E 18……… Can you tell what connects these ?  Chennaites do well know, that these are Bus numbers .. there is little more to it…

In city you get to travel in Volvo buses too on select routes … ‘Aktiebolaget Volvo’  is a Swedish multinational manufacturing company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. Its principal activity is the production, distribution and sale of trucks, buses, and construction equipment. Volvo also supplies marine and industrial drive systems, and provides financial services. Volvo means "I roll" in Latin, conjugated from "volvere", in relation to ball bearing.

Old timers remember it as PTC (Pallavan Transport Corporation) … the present day Metropolitan Transport Corporation was established way back in 1972 with a fleet strength of 1,029 buses and has come a long way.  Remember those days, there used to bus service to every part of Chennai city connecting important places like Broadway (Parrys Corner/ High Court), Central Railway station ~ route no. 1 used to run from Triplicane OT to Tondiarpet.  In earlier days, Transport corporations in Tamil Nadu were named variously, till the ban on names came …. Now it is simple MTC (Metropolitan Transport Corporation)

The transport facility in Chennai is considered to be good – generally the fleet is good and runs on time. If you are lucky enough, you may get to travel in the comfort of an airconditioned bus – Volvo one at that.  In the sweltering heat, it would provide great comfort travelling in a dust-free environment – the bus has great suspension and runs pretty fast.  Though there are many routes in which AC buses are run according to MTC web, there are some where the services are skeleton….for example T51 – which runs from Tambaram East via SIVET, Pallavan Nagar, Medavakkam, Perumbakkam, Sozhinganallur, Karapakkam, Thorapakkam, LB to Thiruvanmiyur – has one in the morning and one in the closing hours – the timing when the buses go to their depots and none during the hot day !! (when the same AC bus is run on different route)

The Hindu recently had a report that commuters are asking for more airconditioned buses in more routes …. ..during summer ~ reports suggest that most of the AC  buses are being operated on long-distance routes, for better revenue. MTC has a total of 100 AC buses. On an average, each bus earns about Rs. 16,000 every day. It is stated that  services on many routes within the city have been stopped since the MTC felt it was not generating enough revenue.

The IT Corridor aka OMR (Rajiv Gandhi Salai) is perhaps one route which has most of the airconditoned buses – as all of them enjoy good patronage, thanks to IT / ITES en route … and buoyed the good patronage, there are more numbers … the bus staff are very courteous, some stop even away from bus stops on seeing commuter – generally only the gate near the driver is opened – as this ensures the cooling inside is preserved better. 

If one thought, that Air travel is the mode of elite and hence every elitist service over here would have better patronage, that is not to be …. as recently, MTC suspended its airconditioned 16-seater bus service from the airport to Koyambedu, citing poor patronage.
Instead, the service is now being operated from Tambaram to Koyambedu and further towards Red Hills. The reason being cited for poor patronage is the steep fare — Rs. 110/- for a trip from the airport to Koyambedu.  According to MTC sources, the crew was operating largely empty buses, most of the time. Four AC buses were operated on the route, each making at least four shuttle services a day. These are blue buses and some complain that unlike the regular AC Volvo coaches, the blue buses are much steeper to climb - also, since the bus cannot carry more than 16 seated passengers, travel by standing is not comfortable.

So next time you are out on OMR, better wait for the comfort of an airconditioned bus, though it might cost you more !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th Apr 2014.

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