Kickstarting the Chennai bus route mapping project

This is one thing thats been a long time coming and much needed for Chennai. The MTC may be good at increasing their fleet, but they dont seem to know 3 paisa about giving its users usable information or even trying to do so.

You cant always use a bus to make your trip, and knowing weather you can or not is what helps you decide. In the current scenario, not only is there no information about where the bus stops are located, but no one even knows what buses will stop there or what route the bus will take. Even today, the most reliable  guide is the conductor of your bus and nobody else.  Even after three years of religiously using the buses, i have to confirm if the bus goes to my destination with people on the bus before boarding.

Having explored every possible avenue to get detailed information about the mtc bus routes, including personally meeting with the higher officials of the corporation itself, i can say without an atom of doubt that the MTC neither have the technical capability nor the interest to produce timetables or route maps for the public. In which case a job like this is best done by the people who need it most. us.

The bus route mapping project originated with my attempts at creating a metro-style public transport schematic map for chennai (see what it looks like), an attempt that i gave up because of information black holes that i encountered at every step. I realised that there were a lot of people who wanted something like this, because they knew the routes they travelled regularly, but in new areas they were always lost. And since i’m made up of wiki blood, it struck me that the best way to get the info that all of us are looking for is to put our heads together and throwing in whatever knowledge we have into a common pot and giving it a good stir.

If you think buses are smelly crowded crumbling  death machines (you actually aren’t too much off the mark), here’s why you should still consider helping out with the project:

  • each person who switches from a private vehicle to a bus, will reduce travel time on the road. both for you in your ac car as well as me, inside the death machine
  • had a party and dont want to risk your head by driving back drunk? mtc to the rescue,but you wouldn’t know where to catch a bus would you? that’s why we all need this project
  • the mtc bus is called a death machine because it hits and runs over people outside the bus and not inside, which means you are probably safer using the bus and leaving your unscratched car at home 😛

Some concluding notes: While i might have helped lay the foundation for this and taken some initiative, this isn’t by any means my project, its a pure community effort and the rewards will be reaped back by the community. And such kind of collaborative projects are still new in India, for one, hardly anyone here even edits wikipedia or sees the need to.I do hope something like this will give everyone a good opportunity to share their knowledge and be part of the system than just be the selfish onlooker who just complains about how things don’t work. If you have an opinion let it be heard,the reigns are in your hands now.

Chennai Bus Route mapping Project wiki page

PS: Excuse the pep talk, just something that i had to get off. i will be a little busy the coming week because of exams and some tv shows, in the meantime, try playing around with mapping and take some initiative to discuss the tasks ahead and streamline the whole project.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About planemad

20 responses to “Kickstarting the Chennai bus route mapping project”

  1. Dynesh says :

    Sounds like fun 🙂 I haven’t read through all the instructions on the wiki page yet but was wondering – Is this a hands-on thing or can emigrated former bus users help too?

  2. Jass says :

    Sure does sound like fun 🙂
    Hoping to contribute to the project in any way i can. Good luck!

  3. Anand says :

    Now, that’s a brilliant idea. It might even persuade some of use to start using buses, if we can find out what buses go where (though I’m sure finding out the ‘when’ would be next to impossible), and where the bus-stops are.

  4. Ramesh says :

    I am visiting Chennai now and have been using public transportation as much as possible during the trip. The most frequent trip that I make is from T. Nagar to Nanganallur. New broad gauge trains are designed to address the crowding problem – seats around the edges and plenty of standing space is an excellent idea. It is much better to take trains than get stuck in an auto-rickshaw inhaling exhaust fumes from buses. It is actually even better to be inside the new “luxury” air-conditioned buses. The only thing that is frustrating is having to explain to my 4 year old son why so many people use the street corners as public restrooms, but that is another story. 🙂

  5. Karthiksn says :

    my friend and I were planning on something similar now I guess we can put some efforts here.

  6. arunram057 says :

    I was googling for bus routes and got to this , Amazing tool. hope you know about it already 🙂

  7. Narendran says :

    I must congratulate all of you.
    The best way is to name EACH stop by the nearest road it intersects. Easier said than done.
    Though I am from Madras, I find it difficult to get the route I want. I will be visiting Chennai in a few days. I am longing to feel the warm air, sea breeze, hear Madras Tamil, Honking, Veg Venders and the famous eats on the beach.
    Right now we are freezing In Toronto(-18 Deg Centigrade today).
    Just let me know if it is safe to use the trains from Airport to Mambalam at 6 am in the morning and how much is the fare. I will transfer to Bus at TNagar Bus Depot..heading to LUZ.I need Rt 12 from Mambalam Stn to Edams Rd/TTK. Hope they let me off there. How frequent are the uses? Are there clener buses? Early morning on a Sat I hope it will not be crowded.
    Good Luck . I will use your map this time.

  8. wetfingers says :

    Hey..i remember you from the blogger meet at Vanilla place. This idea of yours got me interested the moment i read it. We should meet again..without the pretext of blogger meet. Let me know..

  9. planemad says :

    thanks for all the comments, will post an update on the project soon.

    yep, we already know about it. and he’s helping us with the project too 🙂

    i thought it would be that simple but its not, especially to incorporate the oneway routes.

    its definitely safe to use the train at 6am, but if youre heading to luz id recommend you take a 21g bus which would be much quicker and hassle free. enjoy thawing in chennai 😛

    sure, just join the project mailing list. we plan to meet soon.

  10. Dynesh says :

    Good to see you made the paper 🙂

  11. Laxman Koushik says :

    Even I travel through bus daily for the past three years.. its really a death machine…

    Good luck for the project…

  12. Varun Shridhar says :

    Good luck for this mate!

    Apart from not knowing where buses might stop or which route they might go on, there’s something else I’ve never understood – the different colors of buses they have alongside the express and the PP buses – everyone obviously knows they have different pricings but how is it that the colored buses seem to stop at almost every place where the PP does,but is more expensive? its the same case with the express buses.

    and is there a definitive schedule on which colour would come next? most of us might not really bother the 3-4 rupee difference but I have come across people who curse these indifferences.

    anyone with insight on this?

  13. Navaneethan says :

    Hey Arun,

    Just wanted to know if you needed help with this project. I don’t know PHP, but I’ve just started learning Python, if that works. Let me know if you have some specific things you want done, and I can help from from mid-May onwards (until then have to work on my classes and graduate). Of course, this is with all the caveat emptor-s in the world, since I’m not a top-notch programmer.

  14. Narendran S says :

    I am a senior citizen living in Canada…
    I visit Chennai often (as it is my home town..ex-MCC school, Sterling Rd).
    When you guys start the bus route project, please load it so we can use the part which is complete.
    Good luck,

  15. Mike Tuori says :

    Hello. I have read a few entries in your blog and have really enjoyed them. I have just moved to Chennai from the US and am interning with City Connect working on transportation issues. I am very interested in the mapping project (a big reason I haven’t been riding the bus more). I have a few ideas. Send me a mail if you are interested in discussing some of these things.

  16. gnanasekar says :


Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Mapping Chennai’s buses « Eternally Dissatisfied - January 3, 2009
  2. Chennai Rail « WWW.KAYVENKATESH.COM - February 5, 2009

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: