CHENNAI: The Koyambedu bus terminus on Thursday had a huge number of panicking people who wanted to flee Chennai.
The private omni bus operators charged as much as `2,000 for a seat but people did not mind paying as the last thing they wanted was to remain in the city.
“I lost everything in the rains. I just want to get out,” said a visibly perturbed Kavitha, who managed to reach Koyambedu after much struggle.
“I came here by 6am. Only by 1pm could I get into a bus,” said a college student who was headed to Madurai.
It is no longer just bachelors who wish to leave the city. Even families have locked their houses and are getting out. But a huge crowd of potential travellers means getting a seat is almost like having the moon in hand.
With houses under water, people had little option but to wait for more than half-a-day to catch a bus.
“This is a never-ending nightmare since Deepavali,” said Rajesh, of Aiyappa Nagar, as he packed his bags to leave the terminus.
Frustrated people began targetting buses that were entering the terminus.
“The buses are already crowded when they enter the terminus,” said another engineering student.
Private buses that were earlier hesitant to take people out as the routes were waterlogged now take a circuitous route.
“Yesterday, buses were diverted via Kancheepuram, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Salem, Dindigul and then to Madurai. It took nearly 18 hours. We had to cover 300 km more, so we charged `1500. We also had to pay cess at toll gates,” said a bus operator, justifying the huge price charged.
He also said the buses would return empty as it was hard to get passengers to Chennai now. Many private operators who run only night trips, began their journey during daytime on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Chengalpet route was opened for South-bound buses, but the bus operators said it was still a risk to take that route as there were inundated stretches on this road.