A city bus plies in Dhanbad on Wednesday. (Gautam Dey)
The Dhanbad Municipal Corporation will add 30 new city buses to its existing fleet in a bid to bail out commuters worrying about affordable conveyance options after the district transport department decided to slash the number of auto-rickshaws to a mere fraction — from 10,000-plus to 1,550.
The civic body’s procurement officer R.L. Das said the tender to buy 30 more buses would be issued within 10 days. The buses are expected to roll out in June.
“We will float the proposal through e-tendering,” Das, who also looks after the JNNURM city bus project, said.
But all is not hunky-dory.
At present, Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC), supposed to operate the existing 65-bus fleet, faces maintenance trouble due to lack of Swaraj Mazda service centres.
Of the total 65, 40 buses are off the roads due to snags.
Now, however, it seems Dhanbad Municipal Corporation will take over the bus fleet from JTDC. The civic body conducted a study on the status of these buses and analysed the feasibility of running them.
The civic body has submitted the report to the urban development department, mentioning the necessary requisites to run the existing fleet.
“We found serious lapses. Forty buses are sitting idle. The total infrastructure needs an overhaul. To start with, we need a well-equipped and modern bus depot for accommodating 100 buses, as the one at Bartand has nothing, not even sheds to protect the vehicles from rain,” said Das.
Sources in the corporation also hinted the civic body might hire a private firm to run these buses.
This apart, adequate manpower will also be required to run these vehicles. Frequent strikes by drivers and conductors lead to regular disruption of service, blamed Das, adding that stops should be designated for smooth traffic flow.
JTDC, on its part, shrugged off onus for the poor show.
Talking to The Telegraph, in-charge of JTDC (Dhanbad) Surendra Manjhi shifted the blame to district administration, police and civic body.
“What is the point of maintaining buses when we can’t run them due to lack of stops? Our buses are not allowed to stop at many important spots like near the station where the autos pick up most of the passengers,” charged Manjhi.
“Police non-cooperation is also responsible for the poor state of affairs. They act as mute spectators even when auto drivers’ groups rough up our staff. These auto drivers do not want the JTDC buses to ply, as our fares are lower,” said Manjhi, adding JTDC would roll out 12 defunct buses within a couple of days.
The city bus service, which started with 24 buses in October 2010, has stayed in the news for wrong reasons.
It’s time to shift gear now.