Commuter Woes: A Tum-Tum Report

Towards the beginning of this academic year, the Student Welfare Society (SWS) was set up to better manage and run the Tum-Tum service in the institute. The SWS is headed by the Dean of Student Affairs and also comprises of the HCU Chairman, the CSO, the GSHA and the GSAA-PG. It is currently being administered by Mr. Sethu Madhavan (ex-H2 Hall manager) and Mr. Vijaykumar (ex-CSO).

The SWS has managed to increase the cash inflow over the last year. This has been done by making the service a community service, meaning that as a student of the institute, Rs 500 is charged for your use of this service and Rs 500 is paid on your behalf by the institute. The SWS has also utilized money from the DoSA fine account, leading you to wonder what really drives our tum-tums!

While 6 new tum-tums running in the institute by the end of February may seem rosy news to many of you, our problems with the tum-tum services will not end there. In this article, we look at some of the problems faced by tum-tums, and what is being done to curtail the problems.

Contract Drivers
Currently, the number of tum-tums plying in the institute is 13 and the number of drivers being employed by the institute is 24. While the current number of drivers in the institute is sufficient, since these drivers are being employed in a temporary manner, a shortage of drivers sometimes arises due to attrition. This results in some drivers performing double the number of shifts they are allotted for that day. The drivers are also known to change their jobs often because of the nature of their employment, and this has led to shortage problems in the past. The advent of 6 new tum-tums will only serve to augment the problem, and the effective management of these new drivers will become increasingly difficult. When we spoke to the GSHA–Abhishek Agarwal (Monty), he said that he hopes to make the employment of drivers on a contract basis, similar to what is being followed by the housekeeping services. The tender for this has been prepared, and the process would take around 2 months after it is approved in SWS meeting, scheduled in the end of February. He hopes that this move would make the management of these drivers more effective and reliable, even though thecost incurred by the SWS may go up.


New Stops and Timings

If you live in H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H8 or H11, you may feel cheated because all the tum-tums you get in the morning are often full. With the coming of the new tum-tums, this will hopefully change. The GSHA spoke optimistically about the setting up of a tum-tum terminal near H4, from where the buses can start. This move will make the tum-tum facility more accessible to these hostels. However, the current administrator of the SWS, Sethu Madhavan, told us that this move was still in the pipeline, and the logistics of this move were still to be planned out, and until this happens, we cannot be sure it will come through.

In addition to this, the SWS plans to run the service round-the-clock. In the night, the buses would run from the academic area to the hostel area in a timebound manner, making the academic area easily accessible to students in the night.

The GSHA also plans to introduce a proposal to make the tum-tum service a hop-on service. This would make the service accessible to everyone- including all campus residents, rendering the coupon system unnecessary. However, it seems that this move will be feasible only if the institute were to provide somesubsidy on behalf of the staff and their families.

Maintenance Issues

The tum-tums in the institute are carrying a load which is far greater than their prescribed capacity and the tum-tums which were procured earlier are running in a dilapidated state. Since the demand for the tumtums is high, these buses continue to run. However, with the coming of the new buses, the older buses would be put to rest for most of the time, barring the peak times when they would be plying. Thus, the 50% increase of the number of tum-tums may not effectively be that much. We can only hope that by increasing the number of buses, the maintenance cost of these buses would drop, making them last longer.

The GSHA hopes that after the new tum-tums come in and the drivers become systematized, the tum-tum schedule can be put up at every stop. However, the administrators felt that this could pose to be a huge problem owing to the number of tum-tums plying in certain stops, and the frequency at which they run, a single delay could wreck the timetable for that day. The GSHA also hopes that there can be a complaint number, through which a student can find out if and why a particular tum-tum is late. While this proposal looks good, as students, all we probably want is probably just enough space to get on the bus! ?