Pink MTC buses get a makeover.
Article Published on 11th August 2022, To Visit Online
Interview: E-bus Procurement
Article Published on 06 July 2022, To Visit Online
Let roads and rails cross paths
Train and bus fans create new routes through curated circular trips
With the pandemic having brought travelling a few gears down, this may not seem the best time to explore bus and rail routes to ‘create’ customised travel tracks for commuting and recreational purposes. However, with an eye to the future, this week the series on public transport discusses how bus and rail fans can together promote inter-modal travelling by whetting residents’ appetite for it.
Solve this numeric-cryptograph: 71E20251558899102.
One, it is a meandering circular trip.
Two, it concerns Chennai and its penumbra
Three, patches offer a touristy experience.
“On a Broadway-to-Broadway roundtrip a month ago, we boarded 71E (Broadway to Pattabiram), disembarked at Avadi, and took a 202 to reach Tambaram via Outer Ring Road; proceeding to Mamallapuram by 515, we lunched in the temple town; boarded 588, disembarked at Akkarai; boarded a 99 to reach the Sholinganallur junction, where we hopped on a 102 and were back at Broadway.”
That is OMR resident Paul Kithiyon on how he and Santhapriyan Kamaraj, founder-admin of the FB group ‘TNSTC Enthusiasts’, spliced MTC routes.
For Santhapriyan and Paul, a moderator, it was all in a day’s work, which commenced at 10 a.m. and was wrapped up around 7 p.m., on a weekend. The two bus fans translated the trip into a visual experience with video-editing by two other TNSTC Enthusiasts, admin Vijay Narayanan and moderator Vignesh Venkataraman.
In another trip, also videographed, they explored the north-western extremities of Chennai, sallying forth from Broadway to Red Hills (MTC’s 242); to Ponneri (TNSTC); to Pazhaverkadu (TNSTC); and returning from Pazhaverkadu to Ponneri (MTC’s 595 Cut); Minjur (TNSTC); and Broadway (MTC’s 56P).
Circular trips prove that a little imagination can turn routes numbingly humdrum in themselves into a memorable experience. By foregrounding less-familiar routes, they can benefit those who rely on public transport. For those who do not, these neatly-curated trips can incentivise occasional use of public transport.
Employed in Salem, Santhapriyan would be visiting Chennai at least one weekend every month through 2021 to curate such trips along with his team for a collection to mark Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s golden jubilee in the first week of January 2022. Santhapriyan says their next trip is centred around MTC routes in and around Oragadam.
Additionally, besides the making of these videos for their YouTube channel, the group could aim at compiling an elaborately-written ready reckoner of such ‘patched’ MTC-TNSTC routes and publish it on their website tnstcenthusiasts.com and anywhere else they could to benefit those outside the esoteric circle of bus fanning. Even regular travellers can pick up an obscure but useful route or two from these circular-trip notes.
A ready reckoner combining rail and bus routes would be even more wholesome, promoting an inter-modal approach to urban-and-suburban commuting and travel.
The good news is that rail fans also do circular trips and can therefore be organically co-opted into such an exercise.
Sridhar focusses the spotlight on it. “From Egmore to Chengelpet (on the Chennai Beach to Chengelpet suburban line); by an unreserved passenger train from Chengelpet to Arakonnam via Kancheepuram; and another suburban train from Arakonnam to Chennai Central”.
Aravind adds: “We would attempt the Chennai-Chengelpet-Arakonnam-Chennai circular route primarily because the Thakkolam-to-Arakonnam stretch of the rail route was not electrified at that time. The passenger trains used to be hauled by diesel engines, and that would make for nostalgia.”
There is another option rail fans from Chennai exercise, one that allows them more ground without allowing the circular trip to extend into the next day.
“We would reach Chengelpet early in the morning, and at 8 a.m., take Arakonnam Passenger, reach Arakonnam around 9 a.m to 9.30 a.m., have breakfast and spend a couple of hours, and take a Passenger Train to Renigunta, reaching it around 3 p.m., and by another Passenger, reach Gudur at 5.30 p.m., have snacks, and take the Vijayawada-Chennai Jan Shatabdi and reach Chennai at 10.30 in the night,” Aravind details the roundtrip.
He continues: “Travelling by rail lets you cover larger distances in the same time. If you take a 202 from Avadi to Tambaram, it may probably take two hours, and the distance covered would be 30 kilometres, whereas if you take the Kovai Express, in two hours, you would be at Katpadi, 140 km from here. So, the magnitude differentiates circular trips by trains and those by buses.” That comes straight out of the recesses of a ferroequinologist’s heart. However, Aravind recognises buses as an indispensable cog in the public transport system.
Both these rail fans have realised in their own ways that if buses do not provide the last-mile connectivity, the rail experience can feel painfully amputated. “Sadly, there is no connectivity if you have gone to Gummudipoondi or Sulurpet, to take you to Thiruvallur or Arakonnam directly by train,” says Sridhar.
Aravind’s commutes bear testimony to the advantage of ‘patching’ rails lines onto roadways, and vice versa.
As a resident of KK Nagar, Aravind’s everyday commute for a few years would dovetail a suburban-rail route (Maramalai Nagar to St. Thomas Mount) and Metrorail route (St. Thomas Mount to Ashok Pillar) and MTC’s “last-mile” service via 5B, 12G or 17D that would take care of his home stretch.
With increased opportunities for an inter-modal, circular-travel experience, Aravind believes, the government should consider introducing a special multi-modal day ticket or pass that would cover public buses, MRTS, Metrorail and the suburban rail lines. Given the variety of options its offers, it could be suitably priced. He elaborates: “A multi-modal ticket or pass for a day, one that combines all public modes of transport within a city — rail and road — would make for a seamless travel experience. It need not even be a card; it can be app-based. With a QR code, it can be validated that this person can travel all day. It would be useful, not only for train and bus enthusiasts, but also tourists.”
Reporter: Prince Frederick
Article Published on 28 February 2021, To Visit Online
Fans’ forum on overdrive to celebrate MTC’s golden jubilee
Ahead of the golden jubilee year of the Chennai Metropolitan Transport Corporation, a Tamil Nadu-based locomotive fan forum has launched a calendar and a series of miniatures to commemorate it.
Article Published on 17 February 2021, To Visit Online
அரசு பஸ் மீது ஆர்வம்! இணைய வழியில் பிணைப்பு
திருப்பூர்: தமிழ்நாடு அரசு போக்குவரத்து ஆர்வலர் குழு’ என்ற பெயரில் துவங்கப்பட்டுள்ள இணைய மற்றும் முகநுால் பக்கம் வரவேற்பை பெற்றுள்ளது.பஸ் பயணிகளின் நலன் கருதி, www.tnstcenthusiasts.com என்ற இணைய பக்கம் உருவாக்கப்பட்டு, பயன்பாட்டில் உள்ளது. இதில், சென்னை மாநகர போக்குவரத்து, விரைவு போக்குவரத்து மற்றும் அரசு போக்குவரத்து கழகத்தை ஒருங்கிணைத்து, தகவல்கள் இடம் பெற்றிருக்கும்.
தமிழகத்தில், எத்தனை வகை அரசு பஸ், தொலை துார பஸ் இயக்கப்படுகிறது. கோட்டம், அவற்றின் கீழ் உள்ள பணிமனை, பஸ் வழித்தடம் உள்ளிட்ட முழு விபரமும் இடம் பெற்றிருக்கும்.புதிய வரவுள்ள பஸ்களின் போட்டோ, நேர அட்டவணை, சுற்றுலா, ஆன்மிக தலங்களுக்கு இயக்கப்படும் பஸ் விபரம், அதன் சிறப்பு ஆகியவையும் வகைப்படுத்தப்பட்டுள்ளன.
சமீபத்தில், அரசு போக்குவரத்து பஸ் ஆர்வலர்கள் இணைந்து, ‘தமிழ்நாடு அரசு போக்குவரத்து ஆர்வலர் குழு’ என்ற பெயரில், காலண்டர் 2021 வெளியிட்டுள்ளனர்.இணையதளத்தில் வலம் வரும் இப்பக்கம், அரசு ஊழியர்கள் மத்தியில் வரவேற்பு பெற்றுள்ளது. தினசரி ஏதேனும் ஒரு வழித்தட அரசு பஸ் போட்டோவுடன், 1970 முதல் இன்று வரையுள்ள பஸ் போக்குவரத்து குறித்த சுவராஸ்ய தகவல்களை பகிர்ந்து வருகின்றனர்.
Article Published on 23 December 2020, To Visit Online
Numbers don't add up for MTC users
CHENNAI: An unannounced change in MTC bus route numbers has left a lot of passengers confused.
In the last three weeks, MTC Chennai has changed the nomenclature of at least 15 bus routes. These include prominent routes like M7 (T Nagar-Thiruvanmiyur), 7B (Korattur-Parry’s Corner), 522 (Adyar-Sholinganallur-Acharavakkam) and 5A (Tambaram-T Nagar). From now on, these routes will be known as 3, 35, 102M and 51A respectively.
Besides this, MTC has changed prefixes and suffixes of certain routes like G70 (Vadapalani-Guduvanchery) and 37G (Poonamalle to Vallalar Nagar)
“The general public is kept in the dark regarding such changes… this will lead to a further drop in MTC’s patronage. What stops them from releasing a press statement on the changes?” asked Rama Rao from Traffic and Transportation Forum, Chennai.
People not used to names of areas in Chennai might avoid unfamilar bus route numbers assuming it to be a detour (even if the destination and source are mentioned with key bus stops in the board). They end up using share autos after waiting for long, said Ravi Kumar, a regular MTC-user from Tambaram.
Vijayakumar, a retired transport corporation staff, explained a brief history of the MTC’s penchant for numbers. He said in the early 1950s, buses were chosen based on sectors. For example, buses plying via Triplicane were numbered ‘1’ while ‘3’ series were operated via Parry’s Corner. Later as the city expanded, double-digits were introduced and prefixes and suffixes were added as routes were extended. “At one point, it got all messed up,” said Vijayakumar.
Politicians too renamed buses plying to their assembly constituencies with their initials. For instance, routes like 56J and M45K or K18 plied across RK Nagar and Saidapet constituencies from which late chief ministers J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi were elected in the past.
When contacted, MTC officials said that they were renaming bus routes based on the transport zones they belong to, as originally conceptualised.
K Sathapriyan, founder of TNSTC Enthusiasts, said it is good that MTC is trying to make its bus nomenclature uniform again.
Article Published on 18 November 2020, To Visit Online
Chennai’s youngsters experience city through its Public Transport
Just as much as suburban trains fascinate many, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses, too, have several fans. Among them is 27-year-old Santhapriyan Kamaraj. “If local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai, for Chennaiites, it’s the bus. They ensure last-mile connectivity,” says the Salem lad, who’s spent most of his childhood in Chennai and continues to frequent the city. Santhapriyan, who’s the admin of the Facebook page called
Article Published on 21 August 2020, To Visit Online
Missing bus commute, duo create miniatures
But when the lockdown set in and everybody was confined indoors, the group found the number of YouTube and FB subscribers dwindling. “We thought of making videos talking about the technical specification of buses but it didn’t work since it’s a niche topic,” says Santhapriyan, currently in Salem.
That’s when they came across people in Kerala making miniatures of KSRTC buses. So, he and his Chennai-based friend Vijay Narayanan began working on the models from the first week of June. “Work from home stressful, so creating the models is a way to relax,” says Santhapriyan. For Vijay, who started on a new job recently, it has been a way to channel his passion for
Both use foam board to make the buses, which are made to scale. “The material is easily available in hardware shops, and 1sqft
costs 25,” says Vijay.
“We stick to 43cm length, 11cm width and 12cm height for all the normal buses but the sleeper is lengthier, so it’s 48cm,” says
Santhapriyan, adding that they use acrylic paint and also print stickers to paste it on the models. “With the batteries, each bus
weighs 500g. We use the small ball bearings from roller skates so the buses roll on the road.”
Vijay, who takes 12 days to create a model, says it has all the features a real bus has – seats, fire extinguishers, doors that open
and close, LED lights etc. “We also make videos of how we make the models and upload it. Within two days of making a model,
we release the promo video,” says Vijay, adding that the response has been encouraging. “And we will continue creating more
Article Published on 26 July 2020, To Visit Online
In Love with govt buses, they vlog to promote public transport
CHENNAI: Every Friday, Santhapriyan Kamaraj heads to Salem from Madurai. And every Monday, he wakes up at the crack of dawn so that he can leave home and reach his workplace in Madurai on time. It’s a routine the mechanical engineer has been following for the past two years. And part of that strict routine is his journey in a government bus.
“Private buses are heavily promoted, but no effort is made to encourage people to use government buses though they are comfortable and the government keeps introducing new ones. Earlier, I used to travel by a non-AC express bus, but now I commute in an AC bus,” says Kamaraj, 26, who founded the Facebook group TNSTC Enthusiasts in August 2017. Today, it has more than 26,000 members.
You may not spot them when you hop onto a city bus. But every time the government launches a new bus they are there – taking photos, making videos and enlightening the general public about the newer models and amenities through their online reviews. This group –mostly young men – has a passion for government buses, and they are determined to encourage other people to opt for this form of public transport.
“TNSTC buses have the most connectivity. You have buses that go even to interior villages. They are also very regular and if you miss one, you can always rest assured you will get another soon,” says Arun Bharat, a member of the group.
The 19-year-old from Salem, an engineering student at Sastra University in Thanjavur, also swears by the cost factor. “I travel by bus from my campus to my home and it costs me only Rs 150, an omni bus would cost me Rs 400,” says Bharat, who has been crazy about TNSTC buses since his childhood. “Even now, when I sit by the window, I feel like I am in heaven,” says Bharat, the group’s meme creator. “But I only create positive memes, with no political content.”
The group also has a You-Tube channel by the same name. “I started it on the first anniversary of the group. It has nearly 20,000 subscribers and over 2 million views,” says Kamaraj who does reviews whenever he travels and also when new buses are launched. “We are in touch with officials in the transport department and whenever they launch a new bus, we come to Chennai and review it.”
Each review is comprehensive and takes a look at the amenities offered. “We check leg room, seating capacity, whether it’s AC or not, if fire extinguishers are in place, emergency exits, etc.,” says Kamaraj, adding that they have reviewed about 100 buses so far “And we also ask passengers for feedback later.”
While many people may find the drivers too rash, it was the thrill of the ride that got Vijay Narayanan, 20, a mechanical engineering student and co-admin of the group, hooked to bus travel. “I began taking buses from class 9 and was very impressed by the drivers,” says Narayanan who still prefers to sit in the first seat so he can watch the drivers, when he takes the 565 route bus daily from his home in Avadi to his college in Sriperumbudur.
“People complain that the buses are not well-maintained but it’s the passengers who ruin the bus. I have seen instances wherein seats have been torn and fire extinguishers stolen a few weeks after a new bus is launched,” says Narayanan, 20, who also posts reviews regularly. “I recently did a time-lapse one of my trip from Koyambedu to Sriruseri by MTC’s 570S.”
The group now hopes to convince the government to create a bus museum. “Old buses are now sold as scrap but they can be preserved and be part of a bus museum. For instance, Kolkata has a tram museum,” says Kamaraj. “So we have written to the principal secretary, transport department asking if we can join hands with the TNSTC and create a bus museum.”
Article Published on 22 January 2020, To Visit Online
City bus enthusiasts' Facebook group reviews MTC AC bus
Started in August 2017 by Santhapriyan Kamaraj, the Facebook group was a place for bus enthusiasts from across Tamil Nadu to share their experiences and opinions on the various government-run bus services.
“We avoid speaking about private buses because they have more promotion. We want people to know that government buses can be just as good,” said Kamaraj. With nearly 25,000 members, the videos are helmed by a four-man team consisting of Kamaraj, Paul, Sabarish and Vijay Narayanan. The bus enthusiasts, who met through another Facebook
group, have reviewed nearly 100 buses so far.
“I take care of the admin work on the group, and the other two handle the video editing. We are all based out of different areas, so we have covered nearly every route and every service thus far. We even go as far as to take off from our day jobs to pursue this passion,” said Kamaraj.
With the assistance of officials and crew, as well as other members, the team reviews unique services provided by buses and the newest entries onto the road on four criteria — affordability, connectivity, frequency and crew.