How citizens brought the mini-bus back to Chitlapakkam

Residents of Chitlapakkam worked tirelessly to restore a crucial mini-bus route that was a key mode of transport for many. Here is how they succeeded.

Chitlapakkam has evolved over the years from being a Town Panchayat sandwiched between Tambaram and Pallavaram Municipalities to now being a part of the Tambaram Corporation. Chitlapakkam has seen tremendous growth, with a population of 40,000 residents at present. Many residents still commute to the core city for work or study.

One aspect that has been a pain point for residents has been the poor bus connectivity. After tremendous efforts, a mini-bus route that was discontinued has been brought back to service, with residents hoping for more such services in the coming years. 

Mini-bus service in Chitlapakkam

For more than four decades Chitlapakkam had only one bus route running between Chitlapakkam and High Court, 52D. Due to continuous demands placed by many residents associations and forums, including the Chitlapakkam Muthulakshmi Nagar Welfare Association, the first one to be formed in the area in 1990, the then Tamil Nadu Government introduced the small bus service in 2014-2015. The mini-bus running on the S3 route from Chrompet to Madambakkam bus plied via parts of Chitlapakkam and was very useful to the residents. The route also earned considerable revenue due to healthy patronage.  

s3 minibus
The mini-bus route was discontinued after road digging and remained suspended for two more years. Pic: Sundararaman Lakshmanan

During 2015, 2016 and 2017 Chitlapakkam experienced heavy flooding during the monsoon due to excess water released from Selaiyur Lake. This issue was taken up with authorities and the Public Works Department (PWD) came up with a solution in the form of a cut-and-cover drain project along Babu Street and a few other streets of Chitlapakkam. The project was initiated during 2018-2019. 

Babu Street was the main road through which the S3 mini-bus traversed through Chitlapakkam. Due to road digging for the drain project on Babu Street, the S3 service was abruptly stopped in the area, leaving many regular commuters in the lurch.

After the initial stoppage, residents hoped that the service would be resumed once the drain work was completed. However, the pandemic came about and the suspension of the service lasted years. Even as many other routes were restored post lockdown, the S3 mini-bus service in Chitlapakkam continued to remain suspended.

Read more: Chennai’s Small Bus service: Lost smiles over the last mile

Residents demand restoration of bus routes in Chitlapakkam

Residents of Chitlapakkam have repeatedly raised demands for the restoration of the small bus route S3 and other routes such as the S8 from Tambaram West to Hasthinapuram and the H51 extension from Chitlapakkam Annai Indra Nagar to High Court, which were also routes that had been running earlier but have since been discontinued. 

We took the chance to meet candidates contesting for the State Legislative Assembly elections in 2021 and raised this demand during our interactions. We presented a memorandum of demands, one of which was the restoration of discontinued bus routes in Chitlapakkam. 

Once the new state government was elected, we continued to raise the issue with the representatives. 

During this time, the residents came across news of new bus routes introduced after the Chief Minister’s visit to Pazhaveli near Chengalpet. This incident was highlighted during a written request placed with the office of the Chief Minister, demanding the restoration of the S3 route. The same demand was also made to the office of the then Minister of Transport Raja Kannappan when residents saw news of the restoration of some mini-bus routes and launch of new routes in the city. 

During these requests, we highlighted the fact that while women are now entitled to free travel by bus across the state, the women of Chitlapakkam are facing difficulties and being deprived of access to this game-changing initiative due to a lack of adequate bus routes operating in the area. 

Apart from the above representations, the issue was also taken up with the Minister of HR & CE as the bus route S3 was running from Chrompet and Madambakkam. The Thenupureeswarar Temple in Madambakkam is nearly 1000 years old and is under HR & CE Ministry. The weekly poojas at the temple are attended by thousands of devotees who would benefit from the S3 route being operational.  

Reminders were also sent periodically to the Tambaram constituency MLA S R Raja and relevant authorities on the bus route restoration demand. When many new bus routes were introduced towards the end of 2021, we hear that our demand for restoration of the S3 route would soon be accepted. Our representative, Raja, spoke during the budget session of the legislative assembly in 2022 and placed the request for the restoration of mini-bus S3 during the demand for grants of the Transport Ministry. The request was accepted by the Transport Minister 

Read more: All you should know about forming an RWA in Chennai

Mini-bus service resumed in Chitlapakkam

The service was finally restored on 25th November 2022. The residents who had been working tirelessly to bring the mini-bus back to Chitlapakkam were invited to attend the event marking the restoration. The work of the Chitlapakkam residents was acknowledged by the MLA.

Continuous effort, persuasion, patience and an understanding of the working of the government systems have resulted in the positive outcome of the restoration of the bus route. Many resident forums and welfare associations in the area continued to keep the pressure on until the objective was achieved. The support given by the media also helped us take our demand to the relevant authorities. 

The learning from this effort and its success is to never give up and continue to raise justified demands as even if there is a delay, the work put in by the residents is bound to be successful and lead to fruitful results.

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  1. Sudhirrram says:

    Well done sir and a well written article sir

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