A city bus parked near Raj Bhavan on Tuesday. (Hardeep Singh)
The controversy-dogged city bus is facing yet another hiccup in the state capital.
The outsourced private operator of the JNNURM-sponsored buses claims that Ranchi traffic police, who so far reprimanded them for picking and dropping passengers at busy intersections, now chase them away even from designated stops.
Officials of Ask Security Agency as well as JTDC — the government agency responsible for operating the buses on behalf of the urban development department — said the problem was being noticed for the past three days.
“Policemen drive our buses away from designated halts equipped with passenger sheds. We are running operations with difficulty,” said a senior JTDC official. Earlier, buses could wait for passengers at these stops for say three-four minutes, but now the time had been reduced to less than one, he claimed.
Under JNNURM, Ranchi was given 70 buses of which 50-55 currently run on city roads, catering to nearly 9,000 passengers every day.
There are more than 100 bus stops across the city, of which nearly 40 are equipped with passenger sheds. Stops, where the sheds are not available, small signboards indicate that buses can halt.
Prodded by Governor Syed Ahmed, the traffic department launched a loudspeaker drive to decongest roads. On Friday, it also seized four city buses for halting near chowks and causing traffic congestion. The buses were later fined and released.
“If we are not allowed to halt at stops, where do we pick up or drop passengers? No one wants to address this issue,” complained Raghurajnath Shahdeo, proprietor of Ask Security Agency.
Traffic police station officer in charge Suresh Prasad Singh, however, denied the charges levelled against them by JTDC and the private operating agency. “Our men are chasing away only those buses that halt at stops for longer than required. Buses can always pick up or drop passengers and move on in a minute,” Singh said.
Operators pointed out that city buses also did not have a terminus and continued to be parked on roads in Dhurwa and Patel Chowk.
RMC’s chief executive officer Vinay Kumar Choubey, who had been requested to hand them over the Ratu Road bus stop for a depot, could not be contacted. His deputy Gopaljee Tiwari said the Ratu Road stand was not owned by the civic body and hence, the demand could not be fulfilled.