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Fleet of new buses lie in stockyard

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 15: Your wait for more city buses is getting longer as procedural delays hold up the commissioning of a fleet of new vehicles.

The state government has purchased 33 of the 60 buses, including 12 air-conditioned (AC) vehicles, which were to roll out in Bhubaneswar, Puri and Cuttack in October.

However, technicalities have left the new buses stranded at the company’s stockyard near Gangapada in the city.

Operators of the city bus service fear the vehicles would develop technical snags by the time they get them.

An official in the government-run Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Service Limited (BPTSL) said they had been told that the new vehicles would roll out only after the entire lot of 60 buses had been bought.

“Half of the buses have been purchased and transported to Bhubaneswar. The process for purchasing the rest is on. Only after all the buses are here, we will induct them into the city service. The central government has strictly instructed us in this regard,” said Sanjib Mishra, commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and a member of the BPTSL. The city bus service was introduced in Bhubaneswar and Puri on October 10, 2010, with assistance from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme. Later, Cuttack and Khurda were added to the service.

In the first phase, 125 buses had been purchased and introduced in a phase-wise manner. These buses are now plying on 17 routes and over 55,000 people depend on them everyday.

A similar incident had occurred when the first lot of buses had arrived in 2010. The buses had then been kept idle for nearly seven months before being commissioned in October 2010. Most of the vehicles had developed technical problems by the time the service started.

Sources said that besides the purchase delay, the authorities were yet to decide on the fare for AC buses.

These routes mostly connect the city to the airport, Nandankanan and Cuttack. However, none of the buses plying now is air-conditioned.

The government is expected to decide on the fare for AC buses before they are commissioned. Sudhansu Jena, chief executive officer of Dream Team Shahara (DTS), the private operator of the bus service, said they were yet to get the buses.

“We are operating with the existing fleet of buses. No decision has been taken on the new ones,” he said.

Sources said the new vehicles would be added to the existing routes to increase the frequency of the service.