This phenomenon has been the theme for many a parody – be it internet or SMS jokes, memes and has been repeatedly lampooned even in Tamil movies -- but hard as it may sound Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses not stopping at the earmarked spots, also known as bus stops, is more of a way of life for citizens of the city.
Be it the peak, lean or night hours, citizens claim that there is a proclivity of the buses to not stop at the earmarked bus stops, thereby putting them in hardship. Take, for instance, the difficulties Kumar D, a medical book distributor, faces during the course of his daily routine, which involves extensive trips via bus to various parts of the city.
“I commute from Porur to my office in Broadway,” he says. “In addition, I make frequent trips to branch offices that are in Nungambakkam, Vadapalani and Chetpet. In all these areas, I have noticed that regardless of the hour of operation, whenever the crowds are more at the stops, buses either stop a little ahead or do not bother to stop.” This means that for people like him, who need to usually travel with luggage, boarding the bus becomes an ordeal in itself. At times I wonder whether the buses are for us or for the bus drivers, he adds.
Kumar isn’t alone in his lamentations, as City Express found out. Moorthy, a marketing executive at a leading software company, who travels to work to Radhakrishnan Salai from West Mambalam, remembers the fateful day a month ago when he reached home at 11pm instead of the usual 8pm. That day, his two-wheeler needed repairs and he had to take the bus. However, the buses were not keen on stopping at the bus-stop right opposite the US Consulate. “I ended up waiting for over an hour or so, and took an autorickshaw back home, paying a fortune as fare,” he rues.
If you thought a better frequency of buses translated into quicker and comfortable commuting, think again. A section of commuters gripe that this leads to buses ‘skipping’ stops, in the belief that the next bus would accommodate them. Sunitha, an undergraduate student at University of Madras, claims that buses along the route number 29C, generally give the Gangadeeshwarar temple bus-stop in Purasawalkam the go-by, forcing people to get into overcrowded, jam-packed buses.
“This gets irritating in the mornings when I have to go to college, and I end up feeling crushed by the time I make it to college,” she explains.
Going by their travails it may seem like the buses like to rarely abide by regulations, but in some places they are able to do so, thanks to overcrowding by share-autos.