Metropolitan Transport Corporation exploring alternative routes to improve occupancy

Officials are studying the feasibility of operations on ring roads; priority may be given for services to suburbs and extended areas, such as Oragadam and Padappai

T. Sadagopan has to change three buses to reach Porur from Pattabhiram every day. To make it easy for commuters like him, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) has started exploring viable alternative routes.

This is expected to help passengers travel to suburbs without breaking their journey and also improve occupancy in buses.

“It will be helpful if there is a direct bus to Porur as many travel to the hospital from the western suburbs. This has been a struggle for over a decade,” Mr. Sadagopan said.

Prior to the pandemic, close to 33 lakh passengers used to travel by MTC buses daily. Now, the number has dropped to 19 lakh a day. At least close to 1.4 lakh bus passes used to be issued every month. Even that number has dropped to 50,000. This drop in patronage is attributed to schools and colleges remaining closed and IT employees working from home. Besides, people are avoiding buses due to social distancing concerns.

“The occupancy rate is around 60%. A meeting was convened by C. Samayamoorthy, Transport Secretary, recently and he asked the transport corporations to identify viable alternative routes both within the city and in the suburbs. We have started identifying routes where there is a demand, but where the frequency is low or where there are no buses,” a senior transport official said.

He said priority was given to extended areas. “One of the routes is Poonamallee to Walajabad through Outer Ring Road. This will help people reach places like Oragadam and Paddapai easily. We have demand for operations between Koyambedu and Orgadam,” an official saud.

Officials are studying the feasibility of operations on both Inner Ring Road and Outer Ring Road.

“Since IT companies are closed, we are trying to assess the demand for certain routes on the stretch and divert some buses to other unconnected areas,” the official said. Even short routes within the city are under study.

“There are many smaller routes, off the arterial roads, which are presently not catered to. We are studying such routes,” the official added.

M. Somasundaram, consumer activist who used to attend quarterly meetings between the Voluntary Consumer Organisation and the MTC, said the transport corporation was focusing on routes catered to by trains in the past.

“As train services have been minimised with several restrictions, buses are being operated on these routes to fetch more revenue. A few of the routes are Broadway to Avadi, Tiruvallur to Broadway, T. Nagar to Mamallapuram and Avadi to Tambaram. The frequency is good. Even deluxe buses are halting at all bus stops. Due to this the number of people buying ₹1,000 passes will increase,” he added.

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