CHENNAI: The poor condition of Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses plying on city roads is a significant reason for slow-moving traffic, according to the Chennai city traffic police. Last month, an official Twitter page was launched by the cops, giving out public information about traffic status in the city. A foremost reason listed by the page (@CCTPolice_Alert) for slow movement is MTC bus breakdowns. At least one such incident is reported by the Twitter handle every day, although that count has risen on several days.
MTC unions, who have been fighting the issue of bus maintenance with the management, claim the actual number is much greater. K Natarajan of the Labour Progressive Federation (affiliated to the DMK), said the management has largely turned a deaf ear to the pleas of drivers.
“Of the roughly 3,800 total fleet strength, at least 50% of the buses are not in good condition. They have outlived their service period.” Listing braking, engine and propeller shaft problems as main reasons for bus breakdown, Natarajan claimed that not enough spare buses are maintained either.
A driver of the Kundrathur depot, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I notified officials of a braking problem in my bus a month ago, but so far no action has been taken.”
He also charged that when drivers refuse to operate buses which have defects, it is handed over to a rookie or a reserve driver. “Instead of looking into the issue and addressing it, the bus is given to someone else to operate.”When asked about the bus breakdowns, an MTC official claimed. “There are only a few incidents of that sort. We have managed to bring down the count significantly, than before, due to several steps we have taken.”
But for the traffic cops, a bus breakdown poses great difficulty. “It is very much possible. A network logjam is created within a short span of 10 minutes considering the number of vehicles presently on roads,” a former senior traffic police officer said. He added that traffic cops, at times, make alternate arrangements, instead of waiting for the MTC crew to arrive.