Moving forward on Chennai CUMTA, integrated transport

Only a day ago, we heard about the delay in signing of an MoU by the Tamil Nadu Government with the Centre, to facilitate the infusion of funds for the Chennai Metro.

Today, the Mayor of Chennai, Mr. M. Subramanian has said the project is on schedule. Read the report here http://bit.ly/cTAqhG. Earlier, the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr. M. K. Stalin had said the same thing in June, 2010 reported by The Hindu http://bit.ly/cn64zf

What is important to remember is that Chennai is falling behind most major cities, because of underinvestment and wrong policies followed by successive Tamil Nadu governments. While Ms.Jayalalithaa tried to disband the MTC network and privatise it to suit her political convenience, the DMK has been keeping it a closed, politically-oriented system offering less and less service to the travelling public.

A sample statistic shows that Bangalore now has 6,150 buses, including a major Volvo fleet offering daily and monthly travel cards, while Chennai has a distant 3,400 buses and no passes for its handful of high-fare air-conditioned fleet. Bangalore is also getting ready to roll out its Metro rail network next year, two years ahead of Chennai.

It is interesting that the Tamil Nadu has started talking about forming a Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA), and integrating travel by buses, rail and the future Metro. That story is here http://bit.ly/aQDzja. As we have pointed out, MTC has stubbornly refused to integrate with even the existing rail system, both Suburban and MRTS in Chennai. Will the same Minister, who will preside over the new CUMTA, suddenly develop an interest in such integration? Why should he, unless there is either an incentive, or a penalty ?

It is in our interest to demand that the process of integration be done quickly, and MTC made to operate for the benefit of commuters, with sufficient numbers of buses. The more forcefully we make the demand, through the CUMTA and in the public space, the better our prospects of getting a modern, efficient and affordable transit system in Chennai.

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