India: Work Begins on 15-Acre Bus Bay

CHENNAI: For A M Malathi of Medavakkam, a southern suburb, commuting to her work place on Anna Salai is a daily nightmare. A 40-minute drive on a two-wheeler from her residence in Neela Nagar to the Velachery Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) station followed by a train journey to Chintadripet and then walking to her office is what she endures each morning. "Being on the road is traumatic," she says.

Soon, the daily ordeal of hundreds of commuters like Malathi could become a thing of the past with seamless transition from bus to rail set to become a reality. A bus bay, set to become the biggest in south Chennai, is coming up in front of the Velachery MRTS station. Work on the Rs 10 crore project, being jointly executed by Southern Railway and the state government, began recently. Railway sources said the state government will ultimately own the facility.

"About 60,000 sqm of land has been earmarked for the project that is aimed at discouraging private modes of transport which take a heavy toll on the road infrastructure," said a senior railway official. The area has been levelled and will be strengthened with a layer of bitumen later.

The structure will become a major depot of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation, which is otherwise struggling for space to accommodate buses. The facility is also expected to bring cheer to thousands of residents in th surrounding areas. In the past few decades, throwaway prices of lands led a large number of middle income families to flock to areas such as Medavakkam, Selaiyur, Gowrivakkam, Madambakkam and Sembakkam. However, the lack of transport connectivity and crippling road infrastructure continued to affect office-goers and school-going in these places. Subsequently, the Chennai-Luz MRTS line was extended to Velachery but poor inter-changes have meant that the 19-km line has not become popular.

Now, many residents feel, feeder services can be introduced between the southern suburbs and the new bus bay. "It could be the start of a new era for public transportation at a time when the prices of petrol and diesel are reaching a new high every other day," says D Devadas of Balaiah Garden in Madipakkam.

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