CHENNAI: In the 48 hours till midnight on Wednesday, nearly three lakh people have left Chennai for their native places in government special buses and private buses for Pongal. Another two lakh people are expected to leave the city to celebrate the festival with their families, shows official data.
On Wednesday, however, there was not much crowd at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) in Koyambedu unlike in previous years.
Transport department officials said many had altered their travel plans after the government declared Monday a holiday. They expect more crowds and rush in the next few days. “At present, we are able to ensure that only those with masks are allowed to board buses and only 75% of the seats get occupied. But, we don’t know if we can follow such Covid-19 protocol in the next two days, said Aravindan, a TNSTC bus conductor.
Just like on suburban trains, the government should make vaccination certificates mandatory for buses too, he said.
Despite operating adequate government buses, demand for private buses remains high, allowing bus operators to fleece passengers. On an average, travel to cities like Madurai and Coimbatore from Chennai on Wednesday in A/C buses cost Rs 1,800 per head. Despite warnings and some action, overcharging continues.
The government ha s launched a helpline (1800 425 6151 or 044 24749002) to complain about excess fares.
Such exodus usually created traffic congestions within city limits. But the divers ions reduced traffic snarls in key junctions.
While buses were barred from taking the Vadapalani-Kathipara-Tambaram route, cars were advised to take Chengalpet or Sriper umbudur route to reach Tambaram-Trichy highway. As a result, traffic jams were noticed at Kattankulathur and Paranur. “ We drove 35 kilometres to avoid delays. But are stuck before the toll plaza,” said K Baradwaj from Kandanchavadi who drove to Madurai on Wednesday night.