|Madan Mitra in Siliguri on Tuesday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, Jan. 21: The Bengal government has announced nearly 200 buses and permits for over 2,000 taxis among a slew of other steps to improve transport infrastructure in north Bengal.
The announcements were made by state transport minister Madan Mitra when he visited the new office of the State Transport Authority at Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus here today.
The office, inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday, will be headed by a deputy secretary and will issue permits and licences, among other things, for the six districts in north Bengal.
Mitra said the North Bengal State Transport Corporation would introduce 190 new buses, which would run on different routes in the region. He said the buses would also link different places in the north to Calcutta and other destinations in the south.
Joydeb Thakur, the managing director of the Cooch Behar headquartered NBSTC, said all those buses would have the Intelligent Transport Network. “The network comprises GPS and other sophisticated gadgets which will be installed in the buses to track the vehicles movement and location and to check if they are running on time. The NBSTC can monitor the buses throughout their journey if they are GPS-enabled,” said Thakur.
The minister also announced that the transport department would give permits for more than 2,000 new cabs for north Bengal. “The taxis will be both AC and non-AC. These cabs will be no-refusal ones for the convenience of passengers,” Mitra told journalists.
“Apart from giving permits to the taxis, the department will make arrangements for unemployed youths to avail themselves of loans to buy the cars,” he added.
Referring to frequent complaints of misbehaviour and attacks by taxi and autorickshaw drivers in Calcutta, the minister said 100 hoardings would be put up across Siliguri to help commuters lodge complaints about any such incident. “The hoardings will be erected at locations like bus stops and will display contact numbers of top police officers and councillors (of Siliguri Municipal Corporation). Any commuter who faces inconvenience or threat from a transport worker can dial these numbers and seek assistance,” said the minister.
He added that each autorickshaw driver in Siliguri would soon be asked to display his photo identity card and contact number inside the vehicle.
Mitra said all government bus depots and terminuses in north Bengal would be refurbished.
“The depots and bus terminals across north Bengal will be improved with electronic display boards and separate lounges for arrival and departure. The terminals will have other amenities also for passengers. The state is keen on ensuring the overhaul of the transport system,” said Mitra.
Regarding the NBSTC, which is reeling from losses, Mitra said the voluntary retirement scheme introduced by the state government for the employees would come into effect from February this year. As of now, there are 3,068 employees and 592 of them have expressed desire to opt for the scheme. “The NBSTC is increasing the number of buses and has introduced tour packages. These efforts will boost the NBSTC’s earnings,” said the minister.
What north Bengal would get
- 190 buses with GPS
- 2,000 non-
- 100 hoardings across Siliguri with phone numbers of police
- Electronic display
and lounges at NBSTC depots and bus terminuses
- Removal of private buses from NBSTC’s Tenzing Norgay
Central Bus Terminus in Siliguri
Source: State transport minister Madan Mitra