Many takers to and from Chennai, but other destinations see little patronage

Hundreds gathered at the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) in Koyambedu on Monday to visit their native places after resumption of the inter-district bus services on Monday. The patronage was mixed in the districts, with buses to Chennai receiving good number of passengers while the rest remaining largely empty.
Many takers to and from Chennai, but other destinations see little patronage

Chennai

Abdul Rahman (45) from Dindigul used to visit his ailing mother every alternate month but could not visit her for the past six months due to the lockdown. “I couldn’t afford to hire a car and was waiting for the resumption of bus service,” he said.
Passengers were allowed to board the bus only after temperature screening. Only two persons were allowed to occupy the three-seater units, while only passenger was allowed on two-seaters. “Some families insisted on sitting together. Even after we explained the norms, they argued with us. In such cases, we allowed them to sit together,” said the conductor of a TNSTC bus plying to Cuddalore.
A senior State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) official said about 400 non-AC sleeper and semi-sleeper buses will resume service to other parts of the State initially. Considering low demand, SETC and other State Transport Corporation buses would be run on high congestion routes, but with less than 60 per cent capacity, said the official, adding that online ticket booking would resume in a day or two.
However, private omnibus operators, who have been pressing for the fare to be doubled, have not resumed service citing it was unviable for them.
Meanwhile, most inter-state buses from Coimbatore and Salem ran with a skeletal number of passengers. The usually busy Gandhipuram Central bus terminus had just a handful of passengers. A TNSTC official said many buses to other districts were cancelled. “Of the total 1,900 buses, only 45 per cent were operated. More will be operated if the number of passengers increases,” said TNSTC Salem division managing director Mohan.
It was a similar scene in the trains bound to Chennai and Mayiladuthurai from Coimbatore. Passengers were asked to reach Coimbatore railway junction early and were screened with thermal scanners and given sanitisers.
At Tiruchy, there was crowd on buses to Chennai, prompting officials to increase the number of service. In contrast, there were not many passengers for buses to Salem, Coimbatore, Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli, Madurai and Thoothukudi among others. Only 50 per cent buses were operated in Tiruchy, officials said.
Railway staff at Tiruchy performed poojas, broke coconuts and offered deepa aradhana to the trains that resumed service. Special cabins were set up at the railway station for ticket verification.

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