|One of the two double-decker buses at the NBSTC bus stand in Cooch Behar.
Picture by Main Uddin Chisti
Cooch Behar is set to lose something it had in common with Calcutta — its double decker buses.
It seems that the buses that the North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) ran during the Raas Mela in Cooch Behar town may become a thing of the past.
One of them is lying at the workshop of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation’s (NBSTC) new bus stand and the other at the main bus terminus. Both have broken down.
Also, NBSTC sees them as loss-making vehicles because the double decker buses consume more fuel than single-floor buses now.
The absence of these vehicles has disappointed many, especially the young.
Fifteen-year-old Iman Mustafa, a resident of Dhumpur village, 20km from here, said he missed the rides.
“Ever since I was young I used to look forward to travelling with my father to the Raas Mela and my biggest thrill was a ride on the upper deck,” Iman said.
“The NBSTC incurs losses while running the double-deckers and that is why they have been kept idle. At the same time we do not want them to turn into scrap. We are trying to reintroduce them for rides during special occasions,” said Abdul Jalil Ahmed, a member of the NBSTC board.
Ahmed said the first pair of double-deckers was bought in 1974. Another three were added the same year.
“Two vehicles were run between here and Sonapur and the rest three between here and Baxirhat. This continued till 2002, when the vehicles virtually stopped plying,” he said.
The five buses began to rust in the garages and terminus since then.
However, in 2006, two were repaired and made roadworthy. They were used for tourist service and plied during holidays and special occasions. But that also wound up in 2011.
The last time a double-decker was seen on the roads was in March this year, when a single bus ran between Cooch Behar and Pundibari. Then it was shifted into the garage.
Gautam Deb, the North Bengal development minister and chairman of the NBSTC, said that the buses would be repaired and brought back on the roads.
“I am aware of the situation and I am also aware that the double-deckers are part of the attractions of Cooch Behar town. I will look into what can be done,” Deb said.
The buses were sorely missed at the Raas Mela in November-December when visitors took the bus to the fair, the biggest social event in the town.