CHENNAI: It has been a week since Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) began to operate buses with 100 per cent capacity. The patronage has reached over 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels. The per day patronage, which stood at 32 lakh last year plummeted to 28 lakh in March this year. Nearly after five months of lockdown, MTC resumed operation on September 1, but were allowed to run at 60 per cent capacity.
“Since last week about 14-15 lakh commuters have travelled in MTC buses a day,” said a senior official from MTC. “For the current patronage level, we need to operate only 2,100 to 2,200 buses. However, we have been operating about 2,600 buses a day, only to facilitate transportation for more travellers,” added the official. The buses which operated with a handful of commuters have witnessed huge demand during peak hours after the State government announced opening of colleges for final-year students. The suburban trains remain suspended for more than eight months. Following this, MTC increased the peak hour services towards Mamallapuram, Chengalpattu, Avadi, Poonamalle and Tirunindravur routes.
“About eight to nine lakh regular MTC commuters are yet to recommence their travel after services resumed. The fear of Covid-19 transmission and increasing usage of two-wheelers are other reasons for the limited demand for MTC buses,” said an MTC official.
‘Why treat male, female students differently?’
Besides, male college students rued that they were forced to cough up about Rs 90 to Rs 100 per day for bus transportation because of the ‘differential treatment’ meted out by Southern Railway. S Gokul, a private college student said, “I spend nearly Rs 95 a day for to and fro travelling between Maraimalainagar and Royapettah. When railways allows female students,what stops them from allowing male students?”