Category Archives: Trains

Chennai’s popular ‘share autos’ operating illegally: Transport Dept to RTI query

Share autos, or 7-seater mini vans operating in the hundreds in Chennai are illegal, and cannot pick up and drop passengers at random, the Tamil Nadu Transport Department said in reply to an RTI query that I filed in March, 2017. The RTI application was filed to the Secretary, Transport, Tamil Nadu, who forwarded it to the Transport Commissioner, who in turn sent it to RTOs.

The response of the department exposes the lack of a regulated scheme for shared transport in Tamil Nadu, although such services have been operational for a few years now and are highly popular with commuters, especially women. Even the Chennai Metro Rail acknowledges the popularity of these services as feeders from some of its stations. The share autos also provide night transport till almost 2 a.m., which the State government has failed to.

The monopoly bus operator in Chennai, the MTC, has responded grudgingly to the need for small-format transport and introduced a couple of hundred 24 seater mini-buses (besides at least 12 standing passengers) which are also well-patronised. However, for apparently political reasons [not wanting to upset autorickshaw interests], the MTC has not expanded the scheme of mini-buses in a targeted fashion, connecting railway and Metro stations, residential areas and bus termini.

On the RTI query, when asked whether 7-seater or 6-seater vehicles could operate under any law in the city of Chennai and the neighbouring districts of Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram as ‘share autos’, taking passengers from the roadside for drop at random, the Regional Transport Office, Chennai (North West), Chennai 600102 said “No” in its response dated April 3.

So what action is being taken by the Transport Department to regulate the operation of such ‘share autos’ – currently seen operating from areas like Mylapore, Thiruvanmiyur, Nesappakkam, Porur, Chennai Central, T.Nagar, Anna Nagar and Mogappair?

“The Motor Vehicles Inspectors are conducting regular checks on these vehicles and booking for offences committed,” the RTI reply said.

Shared transport in Chennai

A 7-seater share auto in Chennai. Usually, these vehicles carry a minimum of 9 people, and at night, up to 13, charging between Rs.7 and Rs.30 per head for a 1 km -10 km ride.

The RTO (North West) also provided figures of how many 7-seater and 6-seater vehicles were given taxi permit for operation in the city of Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram, within its jurisdiction.

The details of the taxi permits are as follows:

Year 7 SEATER 6 SEATER
2011 12 3
2012 05 01
2013 01
2014 05
2015 03 21
2016 02

Data from Regional Transport Officer (North West), Chennai, 600102

The RTO did not respond to questions on whether the Transport Department had any rules in existence or proposed any to enable the operation of shared passenger vehicles, using commercial transport apps for smartphones and on the internet, such as Ola Share and Uberpool. “This office is only a Regional office. Hence the question not related to this office,” the reply stated.

A similar response was given to a question on whether the Transport Department was taking steps to incorporate the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways report on Guidelines for Taxi Cab Operations in Cities for urban mobility, which MoRTH had published in December 2016 and which was sent by the Union Joint Secretary for Transport, Abhay Damle to the Secretaries of Transport in the States.

Need for answers

Both Chennai Metro and MTC are members of the UITP, the international association of public transport which will hold its summit in Montreal, Canada between May 15 and 17, 2017.

Forming a proper scheme to introduce regulated shared modes of transport in Chennai, besides expanding the static bus network of the MTC are major issues before the city. Delegates from Chennai will be called upon to explain their plan to meet these objectives during and after the UITP conference.

 

 

 

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Filed under Buses, Chennai, CMRL, Metro Rail, MTC, Public Transport, Right to Information Act, Tamil Nadu Transport, Trains, Transit, Transport, Urban rail

What users said about Chennai MRTS on Facebook

The Hindu’s Facebook page today asked Chennai residents for their views on the MRTS, after a robbery in the Velachery station yesterday. A woman clerk was robbed by two men after the last train had left. Here’s what the users said on the MRTS system.

On Saturday, The Hindu reported the reaction to the lack of safety on the MRTS with two pieces: Here is one as seen on Facebook.

The discussion on social media was itself summarised in this report:

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Filed under Chennai, MRTS, Public Transport, Trains

It is a long, difficult climb for the disabled at India’s suburban rail stations

India’s urban train stations are disabled-unfriendly, in spite of 17 years of existence of the Persons with Disabilities Act (1995). With the need for mobility increasing for young and old, the absence of infrastructure such as lifts and escalators is felt acutely.

A man with a walking aid prepares for the long climb down – after coming up an equally steep flight of stairs at the Kodambakkam Railway Station in Chennai, September 18, 2012

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Filed under Chennai, Commuters, India, Life, Photography, Public Transport, Straphangers, Trains, Walking

How Chennai residents lose walking space

This picture of work being carried out outside the Chintadripet MRTS station taken today is a typical example of how Chennai residents are losing walking space to vehicular traffic. The stones being used to form the kerb carry the CC symbol, indicating that they are from the Corporation of Chennai.

Chennai roads are made for vehicles, subsidising them at walkers' expense

The new kerb is a foot and half closer to the wall of the Chintadripet MRTS station, Chennai. Walkers lose that much space.

With no thought to the impending increase in the number of commuters who will want a good footpath outside MRTS when it links up to the Metro line in the next two years, the Corporation of Chennai, obviously aided by other government agencies, is engaging in negative development.  This road has a not-so-famous name : Deputy Mayor Kabalamurthy Road, connecting Anna Salai and Egmore through Chintadripet. It is bang opposite the May Day Park. The MTC bus stop for Simpson can be seen at the far end of the footpath in the picture.

The story is the same in many other roads of the city. Walkers lose, vehicles gain. Is anyone talking about this massive subsidy given to vehicle users by the government and its agencies? Is not the car industry being aided indirectly with such prime real estate worth millions, at the cost of walkers? And the AIADMK government has no compunctions in making energy-saving commuters feel guilty for the avoidable losses of the transport corporations!

 

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Filed under Chennai, Commuters, India, Life, MRTS, MTC, News, Pedestrians, Public Transport, Straphangers, Trains, Transit, Transport, Walking

Chennai’s missing mini-buses: An idea for the AIADMK government

There is no clarity on the transport policy of the AIADMK government, barring the red and off-white colour to be used when repainting MTC buses. The mini-bus scheme is in the doldrums.  Fortunately, the Metro Rail work had started in the DMK regime, or that would also still be up in the air.

If this inflation-stoking government is interested in providing an alternative to citizens, it should think of transport options that use this form factor – a medium sized bus that can navigate the inner city areas, run on specified, numbered routes and collect regulated fare.

This is a Mercedes Benz Sprinter City series van, with obvious benefits for all passengers, particularly the disabled and elderly, thanks to universal design. Does the Tamil Nadu government care?

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Filed under Chennai, Commuters, Public Transport, Straphangers, Trains, Transit, Transport

Indian Railways Revised Passenger Fare Table from April 1, 2012

Download the Indian Railways Passenger Fare Table effective April 1, 2012 here.

Passenger_fare_table_01042012.pdf

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Filed under Chennai, India, Public Transport, Trains, Transport, Transport Information

Can we fix plain old walking spaces in Chennai first?

A city can call itself civilised only if it has a reasonable walkability score, but Chennai is now notorious for not measuring up. The media carries many announcements on expensive plans for total renovation of roads and footpaths, but not the loss of spaces along road margins that can be cleared up with executive measures, not major investment.

I use the Station View Road to reach the Kodambakkam railway station a lot. Here’s what it feels like to walk to this important travel point.   (More Twitter Walkability handles on this list).

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Filed under Chennai, Commuters, India, Life, Pedestrians, Public Transport, Straphangers, Trains, Transit, Transport, Walking