On Monday evening, Jan 5, I was witness to a hapless duo — a blind man and his friend, a tourist in Chennai, being offloaded from a bus and fined for ticketless travel.
I have no problem about ticketless travellers being hauled up if they were given the opportunity to buy one, but they failed to do so.
In this case, the blind man had no idea about the bus that he and his companion had got into, and the tourist was at a loss because he had boarded the bus going in the wrong direction.
The MTC crew is required in such instances to use its discretion, but in this case, the inspectors dipped into the tourist’s pocket and removed a hundred rupee note. They issued a small ticket that stated “100 rupees”.
The scandalous thing about this enforcement episode is that right behind this posse of transport enforcers, many buses were overflowing with crowds, well beyond the legally permitted limit.
Obviously, the law applies only to passengers and not the omnipotent MTC. Chennai’s monopoly bus operator that is not under any kind of regulation and blatantly flouts the UPA government’s National Urban Transport Policy by refusing to implement ticketing reform.
The MTC does not advertise its travel passes meant for daily, weekly and monthly travel. These passes are not made widely available even during the first fortnight of the month, the only time they are sold, during restricted hours. The number of passes is also limited consciously, to avoid displeasing the bus crews, who get a percentage of bag collection every shift as “incentive” (who needs encouragement in a market with deficient supply?). What is more, MTC conductors will not stir out of their seats even in an empty bus.
Despite the traumatic journeys, foul-mouthed crew and undersupply of transport, millions of passengers in Chennai are mute and defenceless; they are let down by the high-sounding Manmohan Singh and Karunanidhi governments (also the earlier pro-privatisation Jayalalithaa regime, for that matter).
If you feel strongly about this, do write to the Union Ministry of Urban Development asking them to stop sanctioning urbanisation funds for Tamil Nadu until this situation is changed. Also write to the Transport Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai and the Managing Director of MTC at www.mtcbus.org
This small story is told in this slideshow.
|MTC CHECKING CREW FLEECES TOURIST|
So if you are ever in Chennai and take a bus, beware!