From Saturday, the MTC would operate 300 to 400 additional buses in the city and suburbs to cater for the passenger requirements, said an official statement from the MTC. “Buses were allowed to carry 44 seated passengers and 25 passengers on standing. Now the government has banned standing travel,” it said.
The additional buses would be operated on the routes of Chengelpet, Guduvancherry, Tambaram, Kelambakkam, Semmencheri, Perumbakkam, Manali, Kannagi Nagar, Perambur, Ambattur, Avadi, Tiruvottiyur and Red Hills.
Sources in the MTC said it has been operating 2,300-2,350 buses a day as of date, even though the number of passengers travelling on the buses has come down steeply. “Before the coronavirus outbreak, the city buses used cater 35 lakh passengers a day. Post-COVID, when we resumed services in September, only 15 lakh passengers travelled daily. The number of passengers using the buses increased gradually and touched 22 lakh in January and February. After the opening of the Metro rail’s North Chennai line, we lost about 40,000 passengers. The closure of educational institutions due to the second wave of COVID has again brought down the number of passengers travelling in a day to 18 lakh,” the source added.
Sources said though the operation of 2,100 buses would suffice for the 18 lakh passengers travelling in a day, considering the safety of the passengers, the number of buses on busy routes will be increased.
A union leader in the MTC said that even if the MTC operates its full fleet of 3476 buses, it would not be enough during the peak hours. “MTC neither has a fleet strength of 5,000 buses nor the crew members to transport passengers without standing during the peak hours,” he said.