Chennai’s MTC won’t talk about its bus passes

Two notices neatly displayed in the interior of a "deluxe" MTC bus in Chennai.

When it was asked under a Right to Information application why MTC buses do not carry prominent notices about the availability of Travel As You Please passes for daily, weekly and monthly travel, it said it was “not necessary”, as the public already knew about it!

Such is the ludicrous state of service on Chennai’s tax-funded, monopoly bus operation. As we have pointed out earlier, neighbouring Bangalore is doing wonderfully well with its BMTC fleet of Vajra Volvos and other classes of services. Not only is a pass available for ALL buses (except airport coaches), the pass information is boldly highlighted inside the bus.

It is shameful that the MTC has cussedly refused to consider giving its TAYP passes wider visibility. The only explanation can be that it never pursued the question of bus passes seriously, and would like to keep it quiet on the one hand, and difficult to obtain on the other.

Here are the responses of the MTC, to RTI questions:

6. The Planning Commission Working Group for Public Transport including Mass Rapid Transportation System for the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) says JNNURM funds deployment should be consistent with National Urban Transport Policy. The Policy stipulates integration of bus and rail transport. Against this background, provide details of the following:

a. What steps are taken by MTC to make the daily, weekly and monthly bus passes available to passengers throughout the month, and during all working hours with conductors, timekeeper booths, depots, and prominent places such as Railway Stations and Tamil Nadu Government offices?

Answer: Already daily, weekly and monthly concessional tickets are issued by MTC. One day TAYP ticket issued through Conductors. Weekly and Monthly tickets are sold through MTC Sales Counters located at important places in Chennai City from 1 to 20th of every month.


b. Has notice of availability of Daily, Weekly, Monthly passes been pasted on board MTC buses? If not, why?

Answer: Necessary display has been provided at the Counters and information also available in MTC’s web site. It is not necessary to exhibit in all MTC buses as the Public are already aware and there is no scarcity of the above tickets.
c. Do MTC buses enter and exit suburban and/or MRTS stations, utilising the space allocated for this purpose inside the MRTS stations? If not, why?

Answer: Already, MTC buses are operated to the near/through (sic) MRTS Stations, Beach, Park, Chintadripet, Taramani, Velachery, Indra Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur,  Chepuk (sic), Thirumylai, Mandaveli. If adequate space is provided, bus connection will be made in the remaining stations.

It must be pointed out that private advertisement bills (unauthorised) are pasted inside the MTC buses, as this picture shows. It is clearly facilitated by collusion between crew and such advertisers, consider the neat display of these notices. What an irony that commuter information is not available in a similar fashion, to facilitate travel!

We must also ask MTC whether it does not want tourists arriving in Chennai to use buses. It would help all tourists if the information on the passes is advertised. It would also end the harassment of tourists who are caught without ticket, and penalised for no fault of their, because they could not buy a ticket on-board the crowded bus, before a checking crew boarded it. This is an absolutely disgraceful way to conduct the affairs of a mass transit corporation in a city with global aspirations. Will the Union Minister for Urban Development, the JNNURM top brass and the Tamil Nadu Government intervene to bring about change?

We reproduce from the MTC website, the details of the existing bus passes. You can quickly see that the idea is not to enable increase in efficiency of the pass system. It is more a “Take it or leave it” approach; weekly passes are sold only on three days, and monthly passes between a specified set of dates; the concept of rolling dates does not exist.

Procedures for getting the tickets:

Commuters who like to get the Travel As you Please Ticket Card (weekly / Monthly) shall obtain an Identity Card at MTC’s Sales Counters by paying Rs.5/-. The Travel As you Please Ticket Card will be issued on production of this Identity Card only.

Issuing points: [Sales Counters available at]

1.   Adyar
2.   K.K.Nagar
3.   Saidapet
4.   Guindy
5.   Velachery
6.   Mandaveli
7.   Tambaram (East)
8.   Tambaram (West)
9.   Pallavaram
10. T.Nagar
11. Thiruvanmiyur
12. Iyyappanthangal
13. Vadapalani
14. High Court
15. Broadway
16. Ambathur Industrial
Estate
17. Anna Nagar (West)
18. Avadi
19. Ayanavaram
20. Perambur
21. C.M.B.T.
22. V.Nagar
23. Redhiills
24. M.K.B.Nagar
25. Villivakkam
26. Tondiarpet
27. Thiruvotriyur
28. Poonamallee
29. Ambathur OT.
Working Hours:
08.30 Hours to 11.00 Hours
15.00 Hours to 19.30 Hours
Period of issue:
WEEKLY TICKETS : All Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays
MONTHLY TICKETS : From 1st to 20th of every month.

If this is the attitude of the Tamil Nadu Government under the DMK to providing transport information, what can one expect from a Rs. 14,000 crore plus Metro Rail? The Japanese agency providing the financial linkage to the State should take a serious view of the situation and draw up suitable measures, if the Metro is also not to go the way of the other transit systems in Tamil Nadu’s ‘Detroit’.

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