Semi Low floor buses in Madurai offers no luxury
Before JNNURM buses came, Madurai city had close to 150 SLFs and many of them were transferred to Nellai, Virudhunagar, Nagercoil and Dindigul regions after receiving JNNURM buses. Madurai city has close to 240 JNNURM SLFs along with the old SLFs that were brought back from Virudhunagar and Dindigul regions. Madurai used to maintain their SLFs in better shape compared to Coimbatore/MTC. Now they are are also going bad.
Low deck buses offer no luxury
MADURAI: They were introduced in the district as low deck luxury buses with attractive looks and interiors under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) in 2010. But, in a period of three years, most of these buses have turned into poorly-maintained vehicles with broken seats and offering a bumpy ride though the commuters shell out nearly 40% more than the regular bus fares.
With this sort of travel experience, commuters are forced to wonder why they have to shell out so much money for the travel. “The fare is higher in these low deck buses but while travelling the vehicle shakes to such an extent that the rear portion suffers the maximum. There is a loud thud in the rear whenever the bus negotiates a speed breaker or pothole,” rues M Sundarapandian, who travels to the city for his work from Chekkanurani.
There are around 300 such luxury buses plying in the city attached to Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation of Madurai division. The condition of most is one and the same. Most of the buses could be seen bellowing huge clouds of smoke clearly indicating the poor combustion in the engines. The automatic doors hardly function and most of them are welded so that they need not be operated. “The very purpose of the automatic doors in preventing foot board journey and accidents is defeated due to defunct doors in these low deck buses,” commented Selvaraj, another city commuter.
The trade unions charge that these luxury buses suffer due to lack of spares especially the balloons used for suspension. Unlike the springs in conventional buses, these buses are fitted with balloons for suspensions. The balloons have worn out in the last three years. “The balloons are damaged in most of the JnNURM buses and they are not changed on time which is the reason the commuters have to experience bumpy rides. Further, it damages the tyres because without adequate suspension there is enormous pressure on tyre assembly,” pointed out R Vasudevan, general secretary of CITU-TNSTC.
Trade unionists also pointed out that these low deck buses generate the larger chunk of revenue and holding them for repair works will decrease the daily collections. “Lack of spares is the major problem. Though the transport management will contend that there is adequate spare inventory, we don’t get what we require to repair these buses,” rued a technical staff. These low deck buses are accommodated in six bus depots in the city limits and outskirts. Unlike conventional buses, low deck buses can be maintained through pit lines. Though all these six depots have got pit lines for maintenance, the number is inadequate to repair all these buses, the technical staff further explained.
Meanwhile, TNSTC officials stated that there is a proposal to procure the balloons required for these luxury buses. “We procure the spares when necessary and we are also planning to procure adequate balloons for the low deck buses,” said T Kumaresan, general manager, TNSTC (operations).
Source: TOI – Madurai