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Dhanbad, ride city bus again

The jinxed city bus service — which has seen half a dozen suspensions since its 2010 launch in Dhanbad, the latest being two months ago following a strike by drivers and conductors over ticket sales and pending remuneration — will resume from Thursday.

It is learnt that the Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) and bus operators have reached an agreement to raise the ticket sales return to JTDC from Rs 10 per kilometre to Rs 14 per kilometre, instead of the Rs 16 per kilometre demanded earlier by the apex tourism authority.

On August 7, city bus service provider Rider Security Service had sent a notice to JTDC, saying it would have to ground the buses if the sales return was raised to Rs 16 from the first week of September. But, the corporation, citing high maintenance costs, went ahead with its decision. The JTDC move, compounded by their pending two months’ salaries, prompted drivers to cease work from September 7.

Caught on the wrong foot, JTDC made a desperate attempt to bring the city bus back on road by clearing all salary dues on October 10, but the controversy over sales prevented resumption of service.

City bus service in-charge of JTDC (Dhanbad) Surendra Manjhi confirmed that after several rounds of talks, drivers had, finally, agreed to raise the sales return to Rs 14 per kilometre.

“We wanted a hike up to Rs 16 per kilometre, but conceded keeping in mind other ground situations such as diesel prices and passenger crunch on several routes,” he said, adding that at the new rate, they would be able to operate the buses on no-profit-no-loss basis.

Manjhi further added that only 40 buses would run from Thursday since it was not “financially viable” to run all the 65. The buses will, however, ply on all the designated routes.

Arun Sinha, general manager of Rider Security Service, said the higher sales return would enable them to pay salaries of drivers and conductors without depending on JTDC grants. “We will, however, have to scrimp and save to meet maintenance costs, which includes road permit charges and other miscellaneous expenses,” he added.


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