October 4, 2015
The images of a woman falling through a hole on the broken floor panel of a moving bus still remain fresh in our minds. The incident took place near Punalur, on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. There was a major furore about the incident and the media went hammer and tongs about the pathetic condition of state-owned buses. But then, nothing happened.
“Town buses in Coimbatore are better when compared to other places. Rust is only minimal not because of any special care, but due to the weather conditions of the city,” said A. Manoj, an activist. “Unfortunately, that’s the only positive thing. Most of the so-called luxury buses of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) are extremely polluting.”
“Normally, the last row seats are removed in private buses to accommodate more people. But now, even CTC buses have started doing it. Government buses now have audio systems installed. They are so loud and annoying that the passengers are unable to hear the conductor at all. The drivers’ concentration is divided between the roads and controlling the audio system,” Manoj added.
“Then, there are the automatic doors that never shut properly. The idea was to prevent footboard travel. But now you need stones and ropes to prevent the doors from falling off the buses. Not to mention the issues with the horns.”
When asked about the maintenance of these buses, a government bus conductor, on conditions of anonymity, said that buses undergo maintenance on a weekly basis. At the end of each day, entries about the faults in the buses are made by the respective drivers and conductors. Most of the entries are not attended to and the faults are neglected until they become more complicated.
“The steps of most buses are damaged. Most point-to-point services are not actually point-to-point. Old mofussil buses are used as spare buses. These are some of the frequently occurring problems,” S.N Samy, the DMK councilor of Ward 61, said. “Government buses nowadays are cutting trips in routes that don’t have enough collections.”
K. Sathyaraj, a student and a regular bus user, said, “In spite of all this, Coimbatore buses are actually much better when compared to places like Erode and Salem.”