Even as residents buy more than 120 vehicles a day, the fleet of 350 onroad buses of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) has gained notoriety for the frequency with which it has been involved in fatal accidents, especially over the past three years.
Low-floor long buses, around 100 — a recent addition to the fleet — have been found to be particularly prone to mishaps, especially around roundabouts, even as authorities claim that congestion on roads is the precipitating factor.
Since 2004, the percentage of total accidents in which CTU buses have been involved has increased from around 4% to 12.5% now, a member of the union claims. Twenty four major accidents involving CTU buses have
been reported over the past three years in which 11 people have been killed and 15 injured.
The low floor debate
In recent times, there has been a debate on whether city roads can handle the 38.5 foot buses, especially as the older buses were 33 foot 10 inches only.
Employees claim the length of the new model does cause a problem in driving, especially on blind curves on inner sector roads and roundabouts. The number of accidents due to long buses (red and green AC buses) is higher than the normal buses, they claim, adding that mini-buses (around 22 feet) have not been involved in accidents.
However, long buses are the future as cities across the country are buying these under urban development ministry guidelines.
Minor accidents numerous
CTU buses have been involved in 50 minor accidents over the past three years. A random poll among residents shows that CTU buses and buses from other states do not seem to follow speed limits and green CTU buses are especially perceived to be a nuisance. A traffic police constable Sandeep Kumar claims that the majority of the accidents involving buses are fatal and most mishaps occur when drivers jump lanes.
Bhupinder Singh, president, CTU Workers Union, says, “The number of accidents has increased since the introduction of the 36-39 foot (12-13 metre) buses in the fleet, around four years ago. Most mishaps are around roundabouts as these long buses are difficult to turn.”
Motorists do not hear buses
The union president lists two other factors that lead to mishaps — engines in the rear that make no noise and the banning of pressure horns. “Two-wheelers do not even hear the bus until it is on to them. This increases the chances of a mishap,” he claims.
He claims red mini buses are never involved in mishaps and adds that the authorities’ reluctance to condemn a bus after its life of eight years also puts the driver under pressure.
Officials say in accidents involving CTU buses, sometimes the negligence of victim (s) also plays a major part.