Tickets being booked at a kiosk at Birsa bus stand at Kantatoli in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Commuters boarding any of the 3,000 short or long distance private buses will soon produce valid proof of their identity, a unique safety initiative that will mark its debut in Ranchi and spread across Jharkhand and which state vehicles would do well to emulate.
Valid ID cards of passengers — PAN, voter or Aadhaar card, driver’s licence, student identity card — will go a long way to minimise eve-teasing, theft, robbery and harassment on board, Jharkhand Bus Owners’ Association president Krishna Mohan Singh said.
He added that the transporters would meet on January 12, following which the final date of launching this drive would be announced.
“Showing of ID proof before buying tickets will be made compulsory for passengers first in Ranchi and then throughout the state. We are taking this step for the peace of mind of genuine passengers as well as to protect our reputation. If any untoward incident happens, passengers pin the blame on us. Both will stop if passenger identities are verified,” Singh added.
In the capital, long-distance passengers normally board buses at Khadgarha (Birsa) or ITI stands to reach destinations within the state as well Bihar, Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Jharkhand private bus owners often receive complaints of eve-teasing, theft of mobile phones, wallets and even luggage.
Sometimes, incidents are more offbeat. In April last year, two ordinary-looking women from Bengal were arrested with 40kg of marijuana at Birsa bus stand. In the open market, the haul was worth Rs 80,000.
“How will a ticket collector, say, at Simdega know the antecedents of a man or woman who has boarded from Ranchi? Many transporters have a tough time dealing with passenger complaints of damage during the journey. Once we put the system of asking passengers to show their ID cards in place, we won’t allow those without any proof of identity to board,” Singh added.
He added they would also introduce uniforms for bus staffers.
“Sometimes, passengers are harassed by local goons at bus stands but lodge complaints against bus owners and even give the vehicle number at the police station. We will now introduce a distinct uniform for all bus staffers so that there is no confusion. The January 12 meeting will also fix this,” Singh said.
Driver Jaquir Ansari welcomed the plan. “Night journeys will be safer for us if passengers have ID proof. If railway and air passengers travel with ID proof, why not those boarding buses?” he said.