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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chennai MTC changes route numbers ~ takes commuters by surprise

These are no random numbers…. Still remember the routes 1; 25; 27E operated from Triplicane OT;  2A, 22, 25B; 25E;  29A, 27B, 27, 40, 45B and more operated from Anna Square; 12; 24; 24A; 30, 45 A… operated from V House; 32A came from Hamilton Bridge and more …..
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In the city of Chennai, presently buses are operated by the  Metropolitan Transport Corporation ~ the same Corporation was earlier known as Pallavan Transport Corporation (PTC).  The transport corporation was established in Jan  1972 with a fleet strength of 1029 buses. The operational jurisdiction was once restricted to  Chennai Metropolitan area. The Pallavan Transport Corporation was split into two and a new Corporation, namely, Dr. Ambedkar Transport Corporation Ltd. started functioning in 1994.  In 1997, more changes saw, Pallavan Transport Corporation being  renamed as Metropolitan Transport Corporation (Chennai Division –1), Ambedkar Transport Corporation  renamed as Metropolitan Transport Corporation (Chennai Division-II). In 2001, amalgamation took place and now it is MTC.

Understand that as per Transport rules, a bus can accommodate upto to 73 passengers.  One needs to see the operating buses during peak hours in the city of Chennai to understand how difficult is to count !  There are Ordinary, Express,  Women’s special, Vestibuled, (double deckers too were existent earlier in select routes); low floor buses, AC Volvo services, Mini buses all operated by MTC.  Earlier we used to see lot of TATA buses, especially on route 12 – now they are all Leyland !!

Many buses have digital boards and in keeping with the floating population of Chennai, they have boards in Tamil and English too.   Besides the buses have Numbers for easy identification.  There will always be pundits on road side who would guide on the buses that ply to your destination.  In  early days every part of the city and the emerging suburbs would get connected to Central and to Parrys….the common Q in those days was identifying the Pallavan bus route Nos….  those days PTC No. 1 used to run between Triplicane OT and Tondiarpet….. now it runs between Thiruvottiyur and Thiruvanmiyur and does not pass through Triplicane.

Numbers could still be confusing.  27 runs from Anna Square to Anna Nagar; 27B from Annasquare to Koyambedu bus terminus; 27D runs between Villivakkam and Foreshore Estate. Some have Suffixes to Numbers; some have prefixes while some have both !!!  21H; T51; M70S.   Previously the route guides in vernacular used to sell like hot cakes – not sure whether they are still existent in this e-age where everyone tries to make a google search !!

Yesterday, I travelled in MTC bus from Karapakkam to Tambaram.  I waited for T51 – then came a bus with no. 95; the board read Tambaram and I hopped in. I saw a A4 printout saying 51 = 95.  Could not make out in the first instant and on the road saw 102 [incidentally 102 ran from Chennai to Vellore – not by PTC though]

There was lot of confusion as  Metropolitan Transport Corporation has decided to change the numbers.   It is reported  that armed with data gotten from travel booked through electronic ticketing machines, officials are now mapping the way the city travels better, allocating buses according to the demand on each route.  It is claimed that the revenue has gone up.   The biggest reason for the rise in revenue, MTC officials say, is the introduction of 'cutservices,' or shortening of routes. So far, the frequencies of buses on 12 curtailed routes have been increased. For example, buses on route 51 (Tambaram-Velachery) used to ply every 10 minutes. Now, they ply every five minutes on the rechristened '51cut route' between Velachery and Medavakkam.  Each bus now travels an average distance of 300km against the 310km it travelled earlier. Another 100 routes are in the pipeline.

But the change in Numbers coming as it did with little information to travellers has taken people by surprise.  Some missed their buses not realising that it had a changed number.  The Hindu reports that in East Tambaram bus terminus, however, the change of number was announced through the public address system; but those enroute were oblivious to change.   Some of the route numbers that gave way to new ones on Tuesday include 21H (102), T21 (102K), T51S (95C), T51 (95) and C51 (99).  According to MTC officials, these changes were made in accordance with the areas from where the buses originate. For example, buses from Adyar, Besant Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur were changed to start with ‘9’.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

11th Feb 2015.

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