Government bus drivers of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) Coimbatore has been instructed to not chat with women seated next to them. A circular was issued on January 19 warning drivers that departmental action will be initiated against those who violate the rule.
The reason behind the rule as per stated by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation TNSTC Coimbatore is that they have found complaints that drivers tend to get distracted because of such small talk.
A senior TNSTC official stated, “It will only take a fraction of a second to meet with an accident. So, it is better to avoid such ‘unnecessary’ distractions,” said the officer, requesting anonymity.
Inaiyum Kaigal workers union Leader M Radhakrishnan in Coimbatore says, “There have been instances when drivers didn’t halt at stops through conductors had repeatedly asked them to.”
“Some remain so involved in a conversation that they resume driving without ascertaining whether passengers are boarding or alighting,” he said.
Drivers, on the other hand, said such chit-chat is required, regardless of gender, it is a much-needed break.
TNSTC driver D R Ramesh said that earlier a similar rule was introduced barring conductors from occupying front seats. Subsequently, it was repealed after night-duty drivers complained that they found it difficult with no one to talk to.
“If talking to women is their problem, let them change the seating pattern,” he said.
A few people sitting on the bonnet is a common sight in most buses in the Coimbatore region, particularly those plying along Avinashi Road which is dotted with many women’s colleges, textile factories and of late professional workspaces.
New trouble for TNSTC is that women passengers are forced to stand near bus entrances in dangerous positions or skip overcrowded buses and wait longer for the next bus.