MTC fights traffic pain as Metro, corporation works eat into road space in Chennai

Residents of Semmancheri and Perumbakkam say travel time has gone up by 45-60 mins
Barricades in more than 50 locations lead to traffic congestion | P Jawahar
Barricades in more than 50 locations lead to traffic congestion | P Jawahar

CHENNAI: Travelling on MTC buses, once a great experience, has turned into a nightmare for the residents. Reason? Ongoing work for Chennai Metro and other works being undertaken by the Greater Chennai Corporation has made it difficult to ride on roads in most of the city.

Barricades in more than 50 locations on roads lead to congestion. MTC buses used to maintain an average speed of 18 km/ph, a far cry from the minimum benchmark of 30 km/ph set for efficient public transit systems. Over the past few months, it has come down to less than 17km/ph. Chennai Metro Rail phase II project aims to add 118.1 km of new rail lines across three corridors - Madhavaram to SIPCOT (45.8 Km), Lighthouse to Poonamallee Bypass (26.1 Km), and Madhavaram to Sholinganallur (47 Km). Since the commencement of work in 2021, boarding a bus has become a nightmare.

Sources said a high-level coordination committee, comprising officials from the traffic police, CMRL, transport, corporation, and highways departments, are overseeing traffic management at every stage of the metro rail works, granting permissions accordingly.

However, residents of Semmancheri and Perumbakkam have alleged a significant increase in travel time, ranging from 45 to 60 minutes, after the partial barricading of Rajiv Gandhi Road. During peak hours, the situation becomes worse. “Fully loaded buses move forward painstakingly slow. The journey from Saidapet to Semmanjeri takes nearly an hour and 45 minutes,” said S Kamatchi, a resident of Semmanecheri.

The ordeal faced by residents of Ramapuram, Porur, Ashok Nagar, Kodambakkam, Valasaravakkam, and other areas is no different. The drivers are at their wits end. “The delay is adding to the stress and is making life difficult for drivers, especially ones over 50, who find it challenging to drive beyond 8.30 pm,” said an MTC driver on conditions of anonymity.

Phanindra Reddy, Secretary of the Transport Department, said the matter has been brought to the government’s notice. “We are actively exploring various possibilities and necessary steps will be taken to alleviate the difficulties faced by commuters and drivers alike.”

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The New Indian Express