Realising that it cannot put out the required number of vehicles in the city, the state transport department has decided to lift the bar on private buses plying on routes exclusive to state buses.
At present, the Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) plies nearly 600 buses on 92 routes in and around the city. According to transport department officials, the number is inadequate to cope with the passenger rush. At least 1,500 buses are needed to meet the demand.
“At present, no private bus is allowed to ply on CSTC routes. Realising the woes of the commuter, we have decided to withdraw the norms and allow private buses to ply. We shall put out vehicles according to our capacity and if any private bus operator wants to ply on the same route, we will not have any objection. We just want that every route has sufficient buses,’’ said transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.
CSTC managing director G.P. Konar said both the bus operators and commuters will benefit by the new system. “As the CSTC is not in a position to purchase so many vehicles to meet the demand, we have decided to allow private buses to ply on CSTC routes. The operators will have to pay a nominal fee to the CSTC to ply the buses,’’ explained Konar.
According to CSTC officials, the private bus operators will have to use tickets supplied by the CSTC and the cost of printing tickets will have to be borne by the operators.
Anyone with a vehicle and interested in running it on any CSTC route will have to apply to the CSTC, mentioning the specific route. The CSTC will issue it a licence. “The number of private buses allowed on the route will be governed by public demand,” Konar said.
The move comes in the wake of complaints of the non-availability of state buses on some routes. Several organisations have submitted memoranda to the transport minister, demanding more state buses in the city.
The matter was also raised in the Assembly, where several MLAs pointed out the problems suffered by commuters.
Instructed by the transport minister, CSTC officials prepared a proposal on sharing routes, which was okayed by the CSTC board. Officials said a government notification will soon be issued, as will an advertisement inviting offers from private bus operators.
Welcoming the move, Bengal Bus Syndicate president S. Saha said there should be no restrictions on plying buses on any route. “There are a number of routes where the CSTC puts out buses but cannot meet the demand. We were surprised that the government would neither ply enough buses nor allow the private vehicles to operate. The commuters were suffering. It is good that they have realised the situation,” Saha said.