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Chennai’s hottest day adds to woes of commuters hit by TNSTC transport strike

For people who use public transport, Monday was perhaps the worst day in a long time as there were no buses on the streets and the mercury touched record heights.

Published: 16th May 2017 04:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2017 04:03 AM   |  A+A-

Busses parked at the Anna Nagar West Depo in Chennai on Monday | P JAWAHAR

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: For people who use public transport, Monday was perhaps the worst day in a long time as there were no buses on the streets and the mercury touched record heights. Amid the ongoing transport strike, 55 State-run buses were damaged in Tamil Nadu, with12 buses ransacked in Chennai. Around 78 people were detained across the State. 

Miscreants pelted stones at buses plying in Anna Nagar, Otteri, Chromepet, MMDA, Washermanpet and Thirumangalam. Besides that, no major untoward incidents were reported in the city. Protests were held in 22 places across the State, which saw the deployment of 90,000 police personnel, 15,000 of whom were in Chennai.

For the first time this season, Nungambakkam Observatory recorded temperatures above 40 degree C. The previous peak was 39.8 degree C on April 16. On Monday, it touched 41.1 degree C at Nungambakkam, 4 degree C above normal, with the situation akin to a heatwave. The met office said monsoon showers in the Andaman Sea were responsible for delay in onset of sea breeze to the city, and expected the situation to continue for a week. 


Taking advantage of public’s desperation, auto rickshaws and private cabs had a field day as most State transport buses stayed away. People had to wait long in scorching heat to get a bus along arterial roads. Autos and taxis took advantage, particularly during peak commuting hours, and demanded exorbitant fares. This was rampant in Guindy, Tambaram, ECR, OMR and parts of north Chennai.


Even those who could afford did not have it much better. “I had no option but to book a cab,” said A Sunil, who works at an IT company on OMR. “For a journey that would ordinarily cost me Rs 200, I ended up paying Rs 550. But I had an important meeting in the morning so was willing to pay the price.”


Others, too, were willing to shell out, but as cabs were running full, had to resort to other means. “I tried for long to get a cab,” said N Lakshmi, who works at the same IT firm. “I ended up calling a friend and asking her to pick me up so that I could get to office.”


For many, the day involved lots of haggling, as auto drivers took advantage of the situation and asked for sky-high fares. J Manikandan, who works at a private construction company, said, “Since buses were so packed, I was forced to take an auto. I paid twice the amount I would pay an auto driver just so I could get to work on time.”


Passengers travelling in and out of the city also suffered a similar fate, as private omni buses charged exorbitant fares. “I had to pay Rs 1,400 for a non-air conditioned sleeper to come to Chennai,” said R Ramesh, a bank employee from Madurai. Usually, Rs 700 to Rs 900 is collected on this route. Though the government assured that action would be taken against these private operators, they continued to fleece those left stranded.


Despite attempts to ramp up train services, many coming in from southern districts including Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari couldn’t get a seat, and took private cabs from taxi stands outside Central Railway Station. Even pre-paid autos, which are otherwise easily available, were charged high rates despite being full.



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