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500 private buses enter CSTC routes

The city, though already clogged with vehicles, is set to witness greater traffic congestion.

After granting permits to 10,000 auto-rickshaws, the state transport department has now decided to issue permits to 500 private buses on CSTC routes. But transport planners feel the move will slow down vehicular movement and add to the chaos. The public vehicles department (PVD) had recently issued permits to about 10,000 auto-rickshaws, disregarding strong objections from the city police.

The government’s decision to allow private parties to run buses on CSTC routes comes in the wake of allegations that state buses are seldom found on certain routes. Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, then, held several rounds of meetings with his department officials to resolve the problem.

“But there is no need to increase the number of buses plying on the city roads. What we need is a re-arrangement of some of the routes. There are some routes where the demand is much less, while on others, the number of buses falls short of the passengers’ requirements,” said a senior traffic and transportation engineer.

According to the existing rules, private buses are not allowed to ply on CSTC routes. “There are states where the respective state transport corporations issue permits to private buses and exert control on their day-to-day function. We are trying to follow the same system here. The proposal to run private buses on CSTC routes marks the start of a new chapter in the state’s transport system,” a transport department official observed.

The CSTC will lease out its permits on some of the routes to private operators and, hence, the new buses will be partially under the control of the transport corporation. The CSTC will also be responsible for supplying tickets to the bus operators, who will have to submit a nominal annual fee to the former.

“The transport department issues bus permits to the CSTC from time to time. But the corporation fails to ply buses on the prescribed routes due to a scarcity of fleet. For instance, it has been found that the CSTC is in a position to ply only five buses on a particular route, even though it has been issued permits for 20 vehicles. Our move is aimed at meeting the shortfall by introducing private buses,’’ said Prashant, joint secretary to the transport department.

The new fleet of private buses will bear the same route numbers as the CSTC vehicles. “If we had the sufficient number of buses, we would have plied them as per the number of permits issued to us by the transport department. We are engaging private parties to ply buses on our routes only to benefit the commuters,’’ said G.P. Konar, managing director of CSTC.

A transport department official said the new permits would be issued to interested parties through tenders published in newspapers. Unemployed youths will be preferred, if they form cooperatives, he added.

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