T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist travelling in the same bus, tried to help him. But he was discouraged from doing so.
“They asked me how I could understand what Mr. Kulkarni was trying to complain about,” said Mr. Sadagopan.
The helpline — 044-23455858, 9445030516 and 9383337639 — has been functioning for the past couple of years. Earlier, passengers could lodge complaints between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. From January 20, it was converted into a 24-hour facility.
But Mr. Kulkarni’s experience showed the MTC helpline was yet to become passenger friendly. “The staff should be equipped to handle complaints in English, at the least, because people from other States too live in Chennai and not all of them are comfortable with Tamil,” said Mr. Sadagopan.
Passengers said MTC should also encourage complaints via SMS. “This will solve the language problem to an extent,” he said. That apart, some passengers also complained that docket numbers were communicated to them only when they asked for it.
When T. Ravikumar lodged a complaint about a faulty automatic door in a bus, he was not given a docket number. The helpline staff did not care to note his mobile phone number either.
“When I lodged another complaint on Tuesday, I was given a docket number after much persuasion,” said Mr. Ravikumar. Also, the complainants are asked to record their names and contact numbers. This will discourage many passengers from coming forward with complaints, said Mr. Sadagopan.
A senior MTC official said additional staff would be posted to manage the helpline. “We will also provide language training. SMS-complaint facility can be introduced only after go-ahead from the government,” the official said.
Passengers wary of the efficacy of the helpline took to social media, earlier this week. A commuter with twitter handle @bangalorehuduga, who connected with The Hindu through the newly-launched Chennai Connect twitter account (@chennaiconnect), said he had lodged complaints with the MTC helpline several times but not received any feedback.