October 21, 2019
The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) has launched new buses, give information on fines for ticketless travel and distribute pension benefits to striking employees under the aegis of AIADMK Minister S P Velumani.
H Anbu Abraham, managing director of TNSTC Coimbatore chapter told the press, “Following the wishes of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the ruling AIADMK Government under Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisami and deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam have announced fifty new deluxe buses for Coimbatore district for the convenience of people. These buses of 44 seating and 45 standing capacity will have wider seats, air suspension engines for jerkless travel and hydraulic doors for front and back entrances. The buses are also equipped with disabled-friendly features.”
He added that from July 28 to September 16, Rs 221,223 had been collected from 1038 persons for ticketless travel in Coimbatore. “We have also distributed Rs.1,093 crores as pension benefits to striking TNSTC ex-employees of Chennai, Villupuram and Coimbatore. The other TNSTC employees with pending pensions will be paid soon, as there are discrepancies in the income and expenses of the TNSTC Corporation, so payment is in phases. We have also submitted a report of our eight-year balance sheet and set up a toll free number for complaints.”
Manoj Arun, a Coimbatore-based social activist is sceptic about the figures announced. He tells The Covai Post, “The TNSTC is very irregular in checking ticketless travel. Either the conductor will not check the passengers or the checking inspector will not check the trip sheet and tally them with the number of passengers. They will also not check disembarking passengers for tickets, and if they do, often the fines will be from where the bus started instead of the interim stop where the passenger boarded. Often the number of passengers standing will be beyond the stipulated capacity. The public is also at fault for travelling on overcrowded buses to avoid waiting, misusing bus passes to destinations other than office or school, avoiding purchase of tickets and escaping fines by leaving the bus before the checking stop.
“In fact the penalties read by Anbu Abraham are just figures. I know, because an RTI petition I put in TNSTC in 2012, said TNSTC had collected Rs.1.8 lakhs from 1,147 passengers for ticketless travel from December 2011 to March 2012, while another record showed that they had collected Rs.3.5 lakhs from 4,500 passengers in December 2012 alone. So it is a blame game between the public and them.”
He adds, “This problem is absent in private buses, whose employees are answerable to their owners. So the TNSTC must tighten its rules and warn its bus conductors and checking inspectors to be stricter with tickets and penalties maintain proper records and stop overcrowding buses.”