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The CMBT by night...

What impresses one about the Koyambedu bus terminus is the quality of services offered there, be it at night or day. Read on to know more.

Pic by Vino John

New mofussil bus stand at Koyambedu. Pic by Vino John

IT DOESN'T really matter if there aren't many parks where you can retreat for a long walk without the fear of being run over by some careless driver. It doesn't matter if Chennai is not blessed with wide pavements on which you can amble aimlessly. Because Chennai now offers, in addition to the Marina Beach, the Koyambedu bus terminus.

Despite the carping criticism in a section of the media and complaints by exasperated passengers, the Chennai Moffussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) on Jawaharlal Nehru Road - a 100 ft corridor - at Koyambedu is what the citizens of Chennai can rightly be proud of. Forget about the need for strings of dazzling lights to hang down the roof of the central structure every evening; forget about auto drivers fleecing the passengers (which you know is endemic in Chennai; and has nothing to do with the CMBT); forget the messy impact of incoming and outgoing buses on the bumper-to-bumper traffic racing down Ring Road. What really catches the eye is what the structure offers. And the best time to find out is late, late at night.

On entering the CMBT at 1.30 a.m., what caught one's attention was the quality of facilities available. The bus bays were well organised and the bi-lingual destination boards - with white letters on a grass-green background - hanging from the ceiling were clearly legible.

One was amazed to find sweepers quietly dusting and wiping the sprawling, tiled corridors even at that hour. Steel benches were everywhere as were kiosks. There was a police outpost as well. Many passengers who had to take a bus early in the morning were either relaxing on the benches or were snoring on the floor. A teashop was doing brisk business.

Some of the buses parked showed that there was enough space between them. The entry and exit corridors were wide and those for the buses were wider. The parking areas for two-wheelers, cycles and cars were large. The security personnel were alert. The walk around the CMBT lasted more than 40 minutes and every minute was worth it. It made one wonder if the New York or Chicago Central Bus Terminus was better than the Koyambedu CMBT. But given the public awareness and civic consciousness, how long can the CMBT retain its excellence is the moot point — because despite the garbage bins next to almost every pillar, there were crushed disposable cups, empty water sachets and cigarette butts lacing the bins even at 2 a.m. It was impossible to expect the sweepers to run and retrieve the garbage as soon as someone dropped it absentmindedly on the floor. Surely, it would be worse during the day.

But no matter what happens in the future, the CMBT stands as an example of excellence.

GOUTAM GHOSH

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