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Bus link to underground to beat rush

Calcutta, Aug. 20: Does the trip to the nearest Metro station mean a long and tedious journey' Not for long, promises the state transport department.

Come September, the department will take up an action plan to decongest roads and provide easy connectivity to the Metro.

Introduction of short-route bus services linking Metro Rail terminals with some strategic areas, connecting the underground to Howrah and Sealdah stations, improvement of the public transport system and construction of small flyovers form the government's four-point agenda.

The rising volume of traffic in the city is a major cause of concern for the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government.

According to officials in the state secretariat, Bhattacharjee wants immediate measures to clear the traffic chaos and has asked transport minister Subhas Chakraborty to draw up the action plan.

According to the plan, the Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) will ply short-route buses to the two ends of the Metro spectrum ' Dum Dum and Tollygunge. The service will be flagged off on September 1.

From the Tollygunge Metro station, buses will be available for Haridevpur, Jadavpur, Behala and Garia, while from Dum Dum, there will be direct buses to Dunlop, Paikpara and Lake Town. Buses will also ply from Sovabazar Metro station to Salt Lake and Ultadanga.

'Our move is aimed at extending facilities so that more people can ride the Metro from any part of the city. Though most people prefer the Metro in order to reach their destinations fast and to avoid pollution, many of them cannot avail of it for want of sufficient bus links to the stations,' said Ashok Bhattacharya, the managing director of CSTC.

Chakraborty expressed alarm over the rapidly rising vehicular population, which is around a million. 'But there is little scope of increasing road space. The only way to decongest the city roads is to improve the public transport system and help commuters avail of Metro services,' the transport minister said.

Easy connectivity to the Metro would help lessen the burden of private vehicles clogging the roads, Chakraborty said. Introduction of luxury buses connecting the city's busiest points could also encourage people to leave their cars behind and avail of public transport, he added.

The transport department has decided to engage private operators to ply luxury buses. The CSTC will also run executive buses.

The department is thinking of constructing small flyovers across important intersections and engineers have identified 10 spots. The idea is to keep some roads like Park Street, Shakespeare Sarani, AJC Bose Road and Central Avenue free from red lights.

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