A peak ride hour of less than two kilometres, from Vadapalani bus stand to Liberty stop by a 17 E Deluxe service of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation today took about 35 minutes, of which 20 were spent inside a virtually stationary bus.
The traffic moves at less than a crawl between Trustpuram and Liberty. The MTC conductor struggled to use his newly introduced ticket machine as the crowd swelled at Vadapalani and Trustpuram halts. Office-goers spoke on their mobiles informing people that they were stalled in traffic — some told superiors at work that they were going to be late to work. One salesman bought a 30-rupee ticket (which is not issued by the machine but contained in a conventional ticket book). This ticket allows him unlimited travel on all except airconditioned buses of MTC.
“I have paid seven rupees, but the bus is not moving,” said a frustrated young man to a friend on his mobile, interrupting the FM radio that he was listening to on earphones using the phone.
The doors of the deluxe bus (the arms of the pneumatic mechanism already rusting at the bolts) opened and shut a couple of times in the 30-odd minutes. For those who wanted to go only upto Liberty, it would have been easier (remember, I am not saying easy) to get down and walk, but the doors were shut.
At Liberty, the pavement shrunk by the ever increasing onslaught of motorised traffic was like a ribbon on which an army of people wanted to walk, as others waited for buses. Cars, autorickshaws and two-wheelers entering from Puliyur Main Road added to the swell at the Liberty stop. Just beyond Meenakshi College, mounds of sand, gravel and some strange chemical containers near the police kiosk cut off access, forcing people onto the road, in disarray, much like ants that had lost their pheromone links.
At Liberty, there were at least 20 police personnel, and an Assistant Commissioner was busy adjusting his high ankle leather shoes next to his Sumo vehicle, as the chaos continued all around. Wonder why they were there…Some of the problem is perhaps attributable to the flyover work at Mahalingapuram. But there is no question that increase in vehicle strength and lack of circulating space for pedestrians is the real culprit.