As Chennai came to a standstill because of the state-wide strike by workers of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, a few private bus services came to the rescue of stranded commuters and provided free rides.
PRP Travels, a private bus service that plies inter-state, collaborated with the Regional Transport Office to help passengers commute within the city in the absence of government buses.
“We were asked by the RTO if we can help stranded passengers who were thronging the Koyambedu bus stand. We were more than happy to do so, and dispatched 20 buses to ply on inter-city routes,” said Sultan, Manager of PRP Buses.
The buses stopped at all the usual stops, and were even given stickers to help passengers identify which buses to take, he added.
According to Sultan, four buses plied the Koyambedu – Tambaram route, the Koyambedu – Kelambakkam route had three buses and two more plied the Koyambedu – Poonamallee route. Two buses also travelled from Avadi to Pattabiram, and two buses plied the Koyambedu – Ennore route.
Additionally, Sultan said that several buses also plied inter-state – from Sriperumbudur to Kanchipuram and Sriperumbudur to Koyambedu.
“The Koyambedu bus stand kept announcing the routes and we immediately started. We were specifically asked not to charge even a penny from the passengers,” said Sagar Mahathi, one of the drivers on the Koyambedu-Tambaram route.
Thedal, a Chennai-based social service group identified bus stands with the most number of stranded office-goers and college students and offered rides free of cost.
“We hired a few buses from KKR travels and plied on routes with the most number of colleges and offices. Each of our buses had over 60 passengers,” said Purushothaman, a member of Thedal, and also a High Court lawyer.
Despite many private agencies chipping in, the number of buses in the inter-city routes were only 5% of the usual number of buses, according to Purushothaman.
The group plans to offer more free rides if the strike continues.