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Clamour for extension of mini-bus, share-auto services

Localities on either side of East Boulevard Road in Tiruchi have been suffering without easy and direct access to town bus services for more than two decades.M. SrinathM_SRINATH

With several pockets of residential areas, some under the old city limits around the Rockfort and many in the newly developed areas, remaining out of the public transport network of the city, there has been a growing public demand for operating mini-bus and share-auto rickshaw services to cater to these areas.

Currently, mini-bus and share-autorickshaw services are allowed only to some of the extension areas in the city.

Prominent among the areas unserved by town bus services are scores of residential localities situated on either side of the East Boulevard Road. Residents of these areas have been suffering without easy and direct access to town bus services for more than two decades.

Many other areas such as Anna Nagar in the heart of the city, parts of Thiruvanaikovil in Srirangam, the 100-feet road in Thillai Nagar, some of residential colonies beyond K.K.Nagar are not connected by the town bus service network at all. A few other areas such Melur Road leading to the Butterfly Park have poor connectivity as not many new town bus route permits within the city seem to have been issued in recent years.

The East Boulevard Road, which runs parallel to the West Boulevard Road in the city, is not linked by public transport as town buses are not operated on this arterial road, primarily due to the traffic bottleneck to the rear side of the Gandhi Market. Buses were operated via the road from Chathram Bus Stand to Tiruverumbur in the past and sporadic attempts to resume services via the road have proved unsuccessful.

Residents of these colonies have been hoping for restoration of bus services following moves to shift the wholesale traders of the Gandhi Market to the newly built market at Kallikudi on the outskirts of the city. But with move proving to be abortive, their hopes have been dashed.

Similarly, Anna Nagar near Thennur in the city does not have access to public transport and residents have to trek more than a kilometre to board buses either at Thennur Road (which have very limited bus service) or Marakkadai. With the opening of the Anna Nagar Link Road, a majority of vehicles including mofussil buses go through the arterial road to reach Cantonment. Yet, no town bus plies on the road.

Civic activists such as N.Ramakrishnan, founder of MGR Nalpani Mandram, says it is time the government introduced ‘small’ bus services in the cities and towns such as Tiruchi. Citing the operation of such services in Chennai, Mr.Ramakrishnan says the government should also consider operating electric buses so as to achieve fuel conservation. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, in response to a recent representation by him to the government, has said that steps would be taken to operate small and electric buses in the city if the government approves it.

“The government should at least allow operation of share autorickshaws if buses cannot be operated to places such as Anna Nagar,” said P.Natarajan, a resident of Anna Nagar. Consumer activist and another resident of the locality, Sakunthala Srinivasan, some years back successfully lobbied for creating a request halt for mofussil bus services near the Ukkirakaliamman Temple at Anna Nagar so that at least residents can take these buses to reach Central Bus Stand. However, the system could not be sustained for long.

“Mini or small bus services should be operated to such islands without public transport as people are suffering for long. In the absence of town bus services, they have to shell out big sums to hire auto rickshaws or taxis for urgent requirements,” said R.Gopal, who lives near the SBIOA School in the city.


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