CHENNAI:When it was inaugurated, the city’s first AC bus shelter at Asargana on GST Road, opposite the Alandur Metro Rail Station, was widely expected to provide relief to commuters waiting for MTC buses under the hot sun. However, barely 20 days after it was opened by the St Thomas Mount-Pallavaram Cantonment Board, commuters have grudgingly foregone the comfort of sitting in them and are instead standing outside because MTC drivers won’t stop long enough for them to get out of the AC shelter and board the bus.
Surachita S, a resident of Nanganallur, who commutes to Ekattuthangal daily from here, says that if she sits inside the AC enclosure, she would have to risk missing the bus. “By the time I get up and come outside, the bus would start moving. That is why standing outside is way more comfortable,” she said. “With my condition, it is very difficult to just get up and run to board a bus,” said Surachita, who suffers from a leg-related disability.
Insensible MTC drivers aside, the shelter itself lacks in a few key features. In a January 6 report, City Express quoted Cantonment CEO S Prabakaran as saying that the shelter would have an ATM and a cappuccino kiosk, while the TV sets fitted inside, he said, would display the bus arrival timings. When this reporter visited the spot, none of these could be found.
Currently, the TVs only relay a CCTV camera view of the GST Road. However, commuters sitting inside find it impossible to read the route number on an arriving bus until it halts, which forces commuters to get up and run, the moment they realise that their bus has arrived. Also, only one toilet out of the eight constructed here is usable at present.
NTL taxi service operators, who maintain the Rs 1.25-crore facility, said that they would ask the Cantonment officials to provide seats in the shelter outside so that commuters were not forced to stand.
“We will also try to put up a digital interface on the TV sets, displaying the bus arrival timings, but the understanding was that the regular commuters knew the timings,” said G Balaji, senior manager (operations) — NTL. So, if it isn’t the commuters, then who is benefitting? Auto drivers operating an illegal auto stand nearby, motorists and passers-by, who are looking to catch that five-minute break before proceeding, are the ones presently enjoying the comfort of the AC shelter. Prabakaran was unavailable for comment.