Is Chennai going to get a transport regulator soon?

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The Times of India has been focusing on transportation problems in the peri-urban arteries of Chennai, with particular reference to the IT corridor. This is most welcome, although it is insufficient given the radial nature of the City’s growth, and the failure of Chennai’s policymakers to take all arteries along while drafting transport plans.

If they are indeed serious statements by administrators, there are some promising take-aways from the TOI coverage:

1. The transport regulator for Chennai, the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority, is being taken seriously by the Government. A central advisor will be in Chennai on May 16, to talk about what needs to be done.

2. Integrated ticketing is part of the mandate of the UMTA — we have been demanding one ticket for all modes of transport, and with some serious effort, that can be a reality (expect MTC crews to resist the implementation of this benefit).

3. There is a weak emphasis on car share, which we consider an important adjunct to a strong public transport backbone.

What the TOI coverage fails to address is this:

  • Pedestrianisation is a core principle in developing urban mass transit.
  • Existing transit and para transit modes have been neglected so far, not merely in Chennai, but in other cities. These should be brought under a regulatory umbrella, the framework set and greater investments allowed.
  • It could have been a major focus, for instance, to analyse why the MTC has stubbornly refused to connect its buses with the MRTS trains, meagre as they are.
  • Furthermore, why have the mandarins at the Southern Railway been allowed to whittle down the service levels on MRTS systematically?

Yet, we view the focus on commuter issues in the TOI a good beginning. We urge all media to pursue this all-important subject closely and report on the solutions.

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