| Luxury buses at a terminus in Patna. Telegraph picture |
This Durga Puja, do not lose sleep over getting last-minute train tickets for Calcutta.
A cool, comfy Volvo bus ride is an option for people wishing to see the Puja grandeur in the Bengal capital. The buses would be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including Wi-Fi, TV, Dolby Digital audio-video, DVD players, LCD screens and mobile/laptop chargers. The buses, running at an average speed of 60-80kmph, would cover 600km between Patna and Calcutta in seven-and-a-half to 10 hours.
A senior officer with Hyderabad-based Gireesh Infrastructure Private Limited, preferring anonymity, told The Telegraph: “Following much delay, decks have been cleared for Volvo bus service between Patna and Calcutta. Our company has a tie-up with the state government in supplying these buses on a public-private partnership mode.”
“The service is set to start by September 25. We hope for the same. Right now, only one bus would operate on the Patna-Calcutta route. We are yet to decide on the bus terminal. The night service would reach the passengers to Calcutta by 6.30am. The starting time of the bus, the fare and other details are being worked upon,” the officer added.
In February this year, Bihar State Road Transport Corporation (BSRTC) officials said the state government had entered agreements with its Bengal and Odisha counterparts in connection with the same and the services would start once the corporation obtained the permits from the State Transport Autho- rity (STA).
The initial plan said nine Volvo buses would ply from Patna to Calcutta and Bhubaneswar.
“The state had entered an agreement and had also applied for road permit for plying the buses,” an official at the transport department said. But sources said the services could not be started because of the STA’s sluggishness in issuing the road permits.
“The STA’s process is quite slow. It has a problem with the BSRTC regarding Volvo operations in PPP mode. But now, the road seems clear for the Calcutta bus service,” a source at the transport department said.
“There are plans to run buses to Uttar Pradesh too. But presently, we don’t know whether the state has entered into an agreement with them or not. Initial plans had suggested that the Calcutta buses would leave around 9pm. We would try and ensure that the passengers reach the destination within 6.30am,” the official said on Thursday.
Initially, buses on Patna-Calcutta, Patna-Howrah, Patna-Siliguri and Patna-Durgapur routes were planned.
When contacted, transport minister Brishen Patel, said: “The service to Calcutta will be launched this month. The department is working hard at present to ensure that buses start plying to Uttar Pradesh too.”