Saturday, November 03, 2007

A welcome move indeed

A welcome move indeed
S Lalitha
More than 12,000 train commuters, including the differently abled have benefited from the electric mini-sized open cars which were introduced at the City station.

The electric mini-sized open cars were introduced at the City station for the physically challenged. It is supposed to transport them free of cost between the platforms and the front and back entrances of the station. Apart from fulfiling that objective, it has also evolved into a transport service for the elderly as well as women finding it difficult to walk.

The beneficiaries

More than 12,000 train commuters, including the differently abled, have benefited from these vehicles which are white in colour and resemble golf carts. One of them is parked at the main entry and the other at the side entry.

One of the vehicles, which works on a 16-hour shift is donated and managed by Maini. The other, which works on a 24-hr basis, is donated by Suguna Hatcheries and maintained by Shristi Communications. Advertisements of telecom majors can be spotted on the vehicles.

Apart from the driver, three others can occupy this vehicle on one trip. Though luggage is not allowed on it, this reporter did find many with baggages in tow on them. The South Western Railway permits the charging of the vehicles by connecting them to electrical sockets within the station.

Ramesh, one of the drivers of the full-time vehicle which was launched five months ago, says, “More than 50 people opt for this service and the demand is really high during the nights. It is the elderly and women with joint pains who cannot walk who form the majority who opt for our service.

I get a call on my mobile before they reach their train to the City reaches the station or when they start from home to the station. It is very useful as the vehicle can reach all the platforms.” His car also displays the number 9900789789 which will provide you the service.

Just not enough

His major grouse is that the vehicle is just not enough to handle the traffic at nights. “There are times when people, who are already not in the best of physical shape, have to keep waiting till I finish one group and bring in the next. There should be at least two vehicles which run 24 hours,” he added.

Satyanarayan mans the other vehicle which plies between 6 am and 10 p.m. This was introduced at the station a year ago and escorts between 30 and 40 people to their destination. What works against this vehicle is that it does not have any contact number at all. Those who reach the station have to approach the concerned railway authority for the service and the passengers are then permitted to use it.

The vehicles bore these words on them, `For the physically challenged’. A top railway official told this reporter that the cars are meant only for the differently abled and are used only for them. He is obviously unaware of what is happening inside the premises.

Well, whichever category is benefiting from it, it is a great service deserving kudos.


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