A bumpy, spooky ride…
This is not the latest series of Gods Must be Crazy. This is the condition of school and college going students who travel between Medak-Narsapur and Medak-Toopran bus routes every single morning and evening.
Medak: An overcrowded bus with foot-boarding passengers - some sitting on top of the bus, with hardly any space left to breathe throughout the journey, people hanging on to a rod on the top, with their bodies taking bending awkwardly as the bus accelerates and heads bang against one another when the driver applies a sudden brake, leave alone girls being groped by man-shaped beasts.
This is not the latest series of Gods Must be Crazy. This is the condition of school and college going students who travel between Medak-Narsapur and Medak-Toopran bus routes every single morning and evening. The TSRTC, which has been running into huge losses, is not entirely to blame. The problem lies in the lack of co-ordination between various departments which hardly get together to address a problem.
Every morning hundreds, if not thousands, of students travel in these two routes to pursue education. There are buses from Medak to Secunderabad and Hyderabad in every 20-30 minutes. Some buses run back-to-back. As the buses reach Kolcharam and Kowdipally (half-way to Narsapur) and the villages in that mandal, huge cans of milk occupy the space meant for students in the buses. The drivers and conductors hardly care to prevent these cans from getting into the buses during the rush hours.
Bad roads are another reason why buses are not running in certain routes. An example is Medak-Chegunta road which is any traveller’s nightmare. It has been more than a year since road works started, but the works have been going at a snail’s pace. Due to this, buses in that route were limited to only a few, causing great inconvenience to students travelling in that route.
According to Riyaz, AE, Roads and Building Department, Medak, there have been deviations in the road construction work and the work has been revised, hence the delay. There is no direct bus between 4 pm and 6 pm from Toopran to Medak. After school and colleges, students have to wait until 6.15 pm to board a bus. By the time it reaches Medak, it would be dark.
Many students come from remote hamlets which have no road connectivity and even autos don’t run in their areas. With no street lights on kaccha roads, they are easily vulnerable to snake bites and girls walking kilometres in the woods fear worse situations. Students complain that first of all there are no buses to Medak from Chegunta. Even if they operate, three buses come one after the other. Many a times, the bus conductors don’t even care to stop to pick the students up.
“Slightly changing the operating time of buses can make a difference. A couple of direct buses running between Toopran and Medak between 4.30- 5.00 pm would be of great help to us,” said Sai Venkatesh, a polytechnic student who travels in that route every day. Evening time is the most problematic time for students travelling from Narsapur to Medak because buses returning from Jubilee Bus Station are stuck in the evening traffic from Secunderabad to Gandimaisamma.
Students suggest operating buses in the afternoon between Medak and Gandimaisamma instead of all the way to JBS, so that they can return to Narsapur by the time schools and colleges close for the day. There are number of city buses operating between Gandimaisamma and Secunderabad.
When contacted, Srinivas, Medak Depot Manager, blamed the inconvenience on students deliberately waiting for their friends to join them in bus depots resulting in flooding of the buses with passengers at one point of time. He also blamed bad roads and timings of schools and colleges being the same, for overcrowding happening during peak times.
However, he conceded that there were issues with the RTC staff with respect to being punctual. It is a fact that the timings of government schools and colleges laid down by the respective departments are not followed by private schools and colleges. Even government schools and colleges operate in shift system in several places due to shortage of space in buildings.
But data relating to how many students travel each day between these two routes is not available either with the education department officials, or with the RTC. Road and Buildings department is also not in loop with the RTC. There is no coordination between these three departments which can come to some solution about the overcrowding and late home-coming problem, say experts.
As of now students are having their semester and half-yearly exams. Timings for exams being different for institutions, it temporarily eased their agony. But this relief may only be for a few days, if this problem is not resolved in the meantime.
By P Mahesh & B Satyanarayana