CHENNAI: Disability rights activist Malvika Iyer, who lost her hands and injured her legs in a freak accident, prefers commuting by auto, not because she dislikes travelling by bus. “I always end up spending double the amount while travelling in an auto. It’s not that I don’t like travelling by bus. I would love to if they were a bit diff-abled friendly,” she says, adding that even basic issues like getting a ticket or looking out for a seat are increasingly difficult for the physically challenged. “You always have to be dependant on somebody while travelling in a bus,” she rues.
Many a diffabled person City Express spoke to said that there were no special provisions made for them, like ramps and broader seats reserved for them; a few lamented that they even get mocked at in buses. “I have had some very tough experiences while commuting by MTC buses. A lot of people don’t tend to listen to you when you’re handicapped. I have been mocked at on many occasions,” says a visually-challenged R Raja, who is a member of College Students and Graduate Associate of the Blind.
He adds, “There are also a number of bus stops at one place, making it difficult for me to make out as to where a particular bus I wish to board halts. I always need somebody by my side. I have never actually sat on a seat reserved for the physically challenged.”
Kumaran K, a wheelchair-bound psychologist, tells us that he finds it excruciatingly tough to get inside a bus in the first place. “I commute by car and that’s burning a hole in my pocket. If there are comfortable buses introduced for the physically challenged, I would definitely change my mind. I am sure it would be a great experience,” he says.
There are 3,531 MTC buses including ordinary, express and deluxe buses plying on the streets, of which only seven are disabled-friendly. The air conditioned buses numbering about 100 are more accessible than the normal ones, an MTC official told CE.