CHENNAI:Every morning, catching a bus is a battle that thousands lose because the bays set aside for the metropolitan mammoths are occupied by share autos and vans. “While travelling from Anna Nagar to my college in Vadapalani every day, I find the share autos occupying the stopping space in front of bus bays at most of the bus-stops along the line, I am often taken by surprise on my motorbike by the share autos gunning out of the barricaded bus bays to the other end of the road, missing me by a whisker,” says Pravin Kumar, a film studies student.
Sometimes, it works as a great business tactic when these share autos block the way of buses at the stops. “I often have to take a share auto in the night time to get to Perambur. This is because we miss the last few buses that come by the bus stop, thanks to these share autos hovering around the bus stop, and we are left to travel in share autos which charge double the day rates ,” says Arshad Ali, a shopkeeper at Purasawalkam.
But while city users crib about this disruption caused by share autos, people travelling along the IT corridor and the interiors find it a godsend with public transport being packed and autos that fleece them. According to studies by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), MTC caters to about 50 lakh trips everyday, while a fleet of around 16,000 share autos and minivans like Magic and Maxx serve almost 15 lakh trips everyday. Share autos bridge an important gap in the city bus service that is often infrequent and overcrowded.
The share autos help connect places interior of regions like Tambaram, Ambattur, Avadi, T Nagar, CMBT, Vadapalani, Porur, Guindy, OMR, Perambur and many places in North Chennai, where public transportation can’t reach, besides the main routes. Most people say that the fare and the last mile connectivity to and from many parts of the city make them opt for share autos daily.
“The share autos often stop in bus bays and refuse to budge even when the bus driver honks. But it often helps that they have a standard rate for transport,” says Naveen Raj, a tech support personnel.
People are willing to pay a little more for better frequency, coverage, and an assured seat that share autos provide. “They cater to a demand for public transport that exists, but remain unserved by city buses. MTC must put in service another 1000 buses compared to the 4000 in operation.
MTC Small Bus is a step in the right direction but more are required,” says Shreya Gadepalli, regional director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). “Rather than being seen as competitors of MTC, they should be allowed to complement bus and rail services. There is a need for better regulation of fares and routes, stringent vehicle safety standards, as well as integration with bus and rail services to improve the reach and ridership on public transport,” she added.