All my student life I have lived in Chennai, and not had to take a bus. School was about 300 metres away from home. As a child, I went to learn carnation music for a few years and that class was also near school. College was far, close to 13 kilometres. And like any decent engineering college, they had their own buses plying in the city.
Before I joined college there was only one instance where I travelled by the MTC bus (Metropolitan Transport Corporation Bus). A friend and her sister, my sister and I went to the beach. We went by bus and we came back by bus. As we boarded the bus to get back home, my little sister faked a heart attack to escape the crowd piling into the bus. But, we did take that bus. It was one of the most terrifying experiences in our lives, but we conquered our fear. Throughout college and even until now take the bus as and when convenient. Sometimes, it was completely unknown as to what bus we must take to get to our destination and a kind stranger would help us out. Unless the bus started from the terminus we really wouldn’t know.
Though now we have some modern structures instead of the old dilapidated ones that were to be found in Chennai, there is still a long way to go. Previously, all the bus routes used to be written in paint along the side of the roof of the bus stop. And some of them would be visible under all the posters and notices stuck on them. Now they are hardly even found. These modern bus stops have a board to display routes. But most often they are empty and one can find advertisements or notices stuck on to them.
It is such a sorry state of affairs. Recently, one of my cousins was staying over at our house. She had to go to college from our house and she wanted to know the bus route. Only none of us knew! We looked it up on the internet. And none of the bus stops near our house had a direct bus to college to her college. Finally, we decided she should just go by auto and we’d rather pick her up after class.
Through all this, we found that MTC has a website. Searching through this website for routes was a pain. Not knowing the route means we have to look up the stage wise search. But then, we did not know the bus stop names as well, because they are well hidden under all that advertising. And should you look up a bus and view the route map, it shows a map under construction. Great!
MTC is the most reliant mode of transport for close to 5 million people every day (by their statistics). And anyone moving to Chennai for an education or a job is bound to rely on MTC buses as well. It is such a sad state of affairs that our bus stops are not able to disperse any relevant information. It would do us all much good if all the political banners, notices and advertisements were replaced by actual bus routes, timings and a map!
Perhaps some thing like this, which I found very useful when travelling abroad. Maybe not this fancy, but something to just let commuters know details.