Chennai-Munnar bus service among 49 new routes in the offing

Tourists from Chennai will no longer have to depend on private omnibuses to go to Munnar, a tourist hill stations in Idukki district in Kerala, with the State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) set to introduce a new service soon.

Similarly, Vellore, one of popular destinations of health tourism in Tamil Nadu, will have direct connectivity with Thiruvananthapuram, according to official sources.

Photo – Syed Riyaz

The Tamil Nadu state transport department recently signed a renewed interstate transport agreement with the Kerala government. As per the agreement, both states agreed to operate buses on 49 new routes covering 8,865 km. The new routes include Chennai-Munnar, Chennai-Ernakulam, Vellore-Thiruvananthapuram, Kodaikanal-Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam-Puducherry, Arthunkal-Velankanni, Thiruvananthapuram-Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram-Ooty, Nilambur-Ootty, Kottayam-Madurai, Thrissur-Ootty, Kottayam-Ootty, Ernakulam-Theni and Ernakulam-Cumbum.

As per the agreement, the SETC, Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) (Coimbatore), TNSTC (Madurai), TNSTC (Salem) and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will introduce new buses, depending on the availability of extra buses.

An agreement regulating the interstate bus operation between Tamil Nadu and Kerala was introduced in 1976. It was renewed, adding more routes in 1979, 1984, 1995, 1998 and 2008. Currently, buses between two states cover 33,000 km.

“The new routes are mainly aimed to improve the connectivity between highly populated cities with tourist destinations such as Ooty, Kodaikanal, Munnar, and Vellore and within border districts,” said a senior transport official.

The transport department officials are expecting new buses for the TNSTC and SETC in four months and accordingly, buses on the new routes would start plying, said an official.
In addition to the regular services, the agreement has also enabled both states to operate 58 special services during Pongal, Deepavali, Onam and Christmas for two weeks.