The Metropolitan Tranport Corporation, Chennai, the entity formerly known as Pallavan Transport Corporation or PTC, claims that it carries 450,000 people every day (This is the figure on the buses, though the web site gives us a figure of 324,200). As one of them, I was able to experience firsthand the kind of public transport used daily by roughly five per cent of Chennaivaasis.
I had to take some form of public transport back yesterday as the car was still not back from service. Magesh droppped me at the bus stop near Vandikkaran Theru – more fashionably known as Cart Track Road. I waited for hardly five minutes, when along came bus number 45, plying from T-Nagar and bound for Kilkattalai. The bus was not too crowded – of course, all the seats were taken, and there were standees next to every seat, but it was not the usual sardine-can human compacting exercise that one expects from MTC, especially during rush hour. I was able to stand on my own two feet, without anyone actually attempting to crush the breath out of me.
The first thing that struck me as I entered the bus was its rickety condition. This was a far cry from the spanking new buses I used to take in the newly-christened MTC back in 1997. In fact, I suspect this was one of the buses that had been bought then, but had been retained till today without any form of service or maintenance. The bus crawled slowly through the traffic, emitting a thud every 12 seconds (I timed it!), and jumping a little every time it thudded. The ride, short though it was – From Vandikaran Theru to Velachery Bus Terminus – was enough to have made a lesser person puke. They don’t call me “Cast-Iron Stomach” for nothing!
When I finally alighted at Velachery, what surprised me was not the badness of the ride, but the ease of taking public transport. I could have taken an auto, and I usually would have. But taking the bus was so much less hassle, and it was surprisingly quick as well. I should do this more often!