CHENNAI: Bus stands, railway stations and the airport in Chennai were flooded with people for two consecutive days as thousands left the city for their home towns ahead of the extended weekend.
As per official estimates, about 3.5 lakh commuters travelled by government and private buses from Chennai to various parts of the State on Wednesday and Thursday.
All government buses operated from Koyambedu and Madhavaram bus termini were overcrowded. “In addition to 2,000 regular services, 933 special buses were operated to cater to the demand. About 1.67 lakh commuters travelled from Chennai on Wednesday alone,” said a press note from the transport department.
A Anbalagan, general secretary, All Omni Bus Owners and Operators Association said, “We operated 712 omni buses from Chennai to other parts of the State carrying 25,632 commuters. Across the State, 54,900 passengers travelled by 1,525 buses.”
Similarly, all trains from Chennai Central, Egmore and Tambaram stations were packed with passengers. Owing to the huge demand, railways operated four special fare trains in Tambaram-Nagercoil, Tambaram-Tirunelveli and Tambaram-Ernakulam sections. Every inch of space in general coaches of trains bound for Madurai, Coimbatore, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Nagercoil was occupied.
With Covid restrictions withdrawn, the Chennai Airport too witnessed an unprecedented crowd. “About 15,000 passengers travelled by domestic and international flights on Wednesday,” said a source.
The sudden travel spike is attributed to four days of successive holidays for schools and government offices. April 14 is a public holiday on account of Tamil New Year/Mahaveer Jayanthi/Ambedkar Jayanthi while Good Friday is observed on April 15. With the State government declaring a holiday for April 16 (Saturday), the State got four consecutive holidays.
“After Pongal holidays in January, this is the first time people have got holidays four days in a row. The government’s decision to declare a holiday on Saturday has immensely helped in reviving the transport sector which has been facing a huge fund crunch due to soaring fuel prices,” said Anbalagan.
On Wednesday, following the inspection of Transport Minister SS Sivasankar at the omni bus stand in Koyambedu, excess fare collected from commuters was refunded, added Anbalagan. The holiday rush also hit vehicular movement on GST Road. EVR Periyar Salai (Poonamallee Highway), Rajiv Gandhi Salai, OMR, ECR, Chennai-Tirupati NH and Inner Ring Road too witnessed heavy traffic.