Chennai’s Metropolitan Transport Corporation seems to have got this one right, at least in the concept. It is not clear whether the service is experimental, but route 29C now has a limited number of Volvo buses operating on it. Covering Besant Nagar to Perambur, this is a route that cuts through the heart of the Central district, the kind of dense places that people travel to, South to North, passing through the Central belly, including Mylapore and Nungambakkam.
No wonder this operates full. It was a boon during the rains as commuters had a comfortable and quiet ride in the thick of fuming traffic all around. We disagree with the tariff of the Volvo service,
Contrast this with the long distance Volvo services that MTC has been operating, connecting Airport and Central Railway Station, Broadway and Guduvanchery and so on. These are no doubt useful, but the trips are more in the core of the city, in the shopping and business areas, colleges, schools and residential districts.
Some of the routes that lend themselves ideally to Volvo service are the traditional favourites: No. 18, from Parrys to Saidapet, No. 11 from T.Nagar to Parrys, No. 10 T.Nagar to Parrys via Egmore and No. 25, Triplicane to Vadapalani covering all of Arcot Road.
It is not as if MTC is unaware of these routes, or the reliability with which they operated in the era before liberalisation. Quite obviously, other considerations have weighed in favour of removing these services, giving an advantage to politically-connected autorickshaw operators.
Yet, the No. 29C service is a harbinger of hope that MTC still has some lingering sense of commuter demands. Hopefully, it will extend this logic to the routes that we have suggested. If it does not, we can only conclude that the autorickshaw mafia of Chennai has close links going beyond the political establishment. And we will have to fight to get proper transport regulation in place in Chennai.