Source said that late chief minister J Jayalalithaa had announced in the assembly in September that about 100 new small buses will be operated soon to boost connectivity to remote residential areas. Subsequently, the MTC officials claimed that the vehicles were undergoing body work and would start their service in October or November. But even after a month, there is hardly any sign that the MTC would operate the small buses soon. Sources added that the officials were finding it difficult to float tenders as two companies were competing for the contract. “Only a few of mini buses are plying from Chitlapakkam connecting Medavakkam, Sholinganallur, Perungudi, Velacherry, Mylapore and the surrounding areas. If more such buses are operated on this route, it will give good connectivity,” says P Viswanathan, convener, Chitlapakkam Residents Association Coordination Committee.
He demanded the MTC officials to make field visits for route inspections. Daniel Robinson, Programme Manager, Chennai City Connect, who also made a study on MTC buses, said, “Small buses play a significant role in connecting the city and its suburbs. The officials concerned should operate more small buses.” It is a fact that residents from the suburbs, who had to walk to major bus stops, breathed a sigh of relief after small buses were introduced in the respective routes, he added. When contacted, a senior MTC official, on condition of anonymity, said, “Everything is under process and we are inspecting route maps both in the city and the suburbs.” He added that there was a high possibility that the small buses would start their service by the end of January. When asked about the delay, the official admitted that there were problems in procuring such buses.