CHENNAI, India — Keerthana, an employee at Ford India’s Chennai plant, was ecstatic after arriving at work aboard the new company bus after a 60 km trip from her home.
“I arrived here rested and cheerful, reclining into one of the comfortable seats in this new bus. This is a very good start to the day,” said Keerthana, who works as an operator in Trim Chassis Finish.
Nearly 90 percent of the 5,000 strong workforce at the Maraimalai Nagar plant commute by bus to the facility, located 35 kms from Chennai city. With increasing traffic, the average travel time is close to three hours every day, prompting Ford India to upgrade the bus fleet for employees.
“It was imperative that the new vendor could provide safe and comfortable travel for our employees…and we have taken adequate care to ensure this,” said T.S. Vijaya Gandhi, administration executive of the Human Resources team which looks after employee transport.
The buses have seat belts for driver and passengers seated in the front row, an emergency door that emits a siren when opened and fire extinguishers as standard equipment to ensure employees’ safety, said Jose Joseph, manager of HR administration for Ford India. There are three types of buses depending on the distance travelled, with those travelling more than 40 km having recliner seats for better comfort.
Garuda Logistics, a Chennai-based transport logistics company was appointed the new vendor in March. The company has already started operating 17 new buses and will soon add others to expand the fleet to 62 buses to cater to Ford India’s workforce.
“We have been in the transport business for over two decades, providing transport logistics to reputed companies like Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Mindtree in Chennai. We take our responsibility seriously and will ferry Ford employees with utmost comfort and safety,” said Senthil Kumar, Garuda’s proprietor.
Garuda Logistics has taken feedback from Ford India to redesign the interiors to ensure passenger comfort. The platform has been raised to ensure ventilation from the windows and seats are ergonomically designed and can be reclined. There is also a drinking water dispenser in every bus.
“To ensure that drivers do not speed, we have locked the fuel pumps and plan to monitor the buses with a Global Positioning System (GPS). All our drivers are trained and come with many years of experience,” said Kumar.
In fact, Ford India conducted a special Driving Skills for Life session exclusively for Garuda’s drivers last month. Tom Chackalackal, executive director, Manufacturing, who inaugurated the new fleet by cutting a ribbon last week, was assured that all buses sport a hotline number so that speeding and traffic violations can be promptly reported to the Travel Desk.
“Since our plant is located away from the city, we know our employees spend quite a few hours travelling. With the new fleet, we hope they will have a better, safer and smoother travel experience,” Chackalackal said.
|Tom Chackalackal, executive director, Manufacturing, Ford India, inaugurates the new bus fleet of Garuda Logistics as Senthil Kumar, vice president, Manufacturing, looks on