Mapping Bus Routes in Chennai.

Did you know that close to 73% of chennai-ites take the bus as their primary mode of transport? The Chennai Metro Transport System has about 540+ routes, a hundred or more extension routes and I believe a fleet of 2000+ buses. There are 200 new buses coming in every month, as the old ones are being slowly taken out of service.

If you have seen the scrolling LEDs and the fancy new volvos, thats the face of the chennai transport system. Pretty slick I must say.

I had personally met the new Cheif Operating Officer sometime back and he is quite a fabulous guy. I have a good sense of feeling that the new volvos that are rolling, the ticketing machines and all, are just the beginning of what Chennai will see.

During our conversation with the COO, we finally reached the main reason why I had gone to meet him. A friend of mine, Arun Ganesh, has a fabulous interest in wanting to map the bus routes of the city so that the 73%, along with the new folks who come to the city can know which route will take them to which part of the city.

The unfortunate part is that there is no digital data available with the chennai transport department on this. One suggestion was to go talk to the drivers and conductors with a map and get the routes drawn on a blank chennai map. Hmm… 540 routes+ in that methodology is definitely going to take its time. But I think its an effort worth the time, and something that the city and the office will greatly benefit from.

I know I am proud to see the strides that the public transport is making and the uplift that it provides to the city, and I would love to do more to enhance that. I wish that we could get some GPS loggers and if people who do travel certain routes could contribute, we could have the data required in less than a months’ time. This will be the first time a city in India would have a schematic map. Anyone game?

If so, leave your name and contact details as a comment.

8 Comments so far

  1. krishraghav on March 16th, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

    Great idea!

    I dont have GPS, but Im willing to help out any way I can.

    Krish Raghav
    krish DOT raghav AT

  2. bala on March 16th, 2008 @ 7:46 pm

    You should probably contact Rakesh & Rashmi Verma of for help with this project. These former Googlers have been just starting to map India from top to bottom and have already produced navigable maps that can be loaded in GPS devices.

    Using their expertise or atleast guidance would make the mapping of bus routes be more professional and accurate.

    Hope this helps.

  3. gads (nsgads) on March 16th, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

    Good initiative. But we must also be aware of the fact that because of the construction of flyovers and other stuff, routes are changed. For example, 47 series buses do not enter Thirumalai Pillai Road from Valluvar Kottam because of the construction of flyover on G.N.Chetty Road. Instead, these buses go via North Usman Road. And once the flyover is constructed, buses will take the old route. How do we tackle this problem?

  4. vikas on March 16th, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

    great idea. A week ago saw this news about and had a look at

  5. vikas on March 16th, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

    This site by Rabin Vincent shows many(all?) routes and of the MTC buses running in the city of Chennai

    Hope we would soon get a gps/google maps for Chennai.

  6. Vivek (vivek) on March 17th, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

    There’s another list
    MTC Bus Routes
    It doesnt map the routes – just tells us the first and last points (and I somehow doubt if it’s updated regularly or not)

  7. shekys on March 17th, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

    I’m game.I have fairly good idea of the various routes in Chennai.

  8. yuvaraj on March 18th, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

    This is nice. Count me in. I have a good understanding on Google Maps logic, so I have quickly drafted out a program which will tell you the lat and long of any place you mark. So provided we have the list of bus routes, stops and volunteers to mark the bus stops on the map, we can do this pretty quickly with this program. So whoever wants to take the lead on this, let me know and I will send them the program. I can lend my technical expertise on this during my free time. But I am pretty much useless in my knowledge of bus routes and stops.

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