The change of guard for the capital’s city bus fleet may finally happen this year.
Ranchi Municipal Corporation, which has been mulling to take over the beleaguered bus service from Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) for some time now, is keen to execute the transfer process by April. Chief executive officer (CEO) of the civic body Manoj Kumar will write to JTDC soon, requesting it to hand over all 70 buses.
Although the JTDC currently runs the buses launched under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in 2010, RMC actually owns the fleet.
“Yes, we are keen to take back the buses and ply them on our own from April for which we will write to JTDC in a few days,” Manoj told The Telegraph.
However, it will take some more time to ensure a smooth run for the city fleet, plagued by multiple challenges from manpower problems to poor maintenance, even if the takeover happens by this April. This is because the RMC, which has a whopping Rs 14 crore JNNURM grant in its kitty, is planning to first repair some of the buses that are in poor shape.
“The rickety buses need immediate attention. Before they hit the roads, we need to make an assessment of how many vehicles are in operational condition, how many need repairs and what will be the total overhauling cost,” Kumar added.
The civic body is also keen on preparing a new route chart for the 70 buses.
“Actually, there has been no proper survey on aspects like which route has more passengers, the busiest thoroughfares and the like. Such information could have helped us come up with new routes,” the CEO said.
He, however, stressed that the new routes would be introduced only after a test run and a set of buses would be introduced on the Ring Road. At present, there are five designated routes.
But there is also a bad news for Ranchi commuters. The much-touted low-floor buses, 10 of which were to be air-conditioned, will not roll out in the state capital in near future.
“We decided to not go ahead with the low-floor fleet because of technical problems. City roundabouts don’t have enough space for low-floor AC buses to take a U-turn. So, we are now looking for smaller variants of AC buses. But till that happens, we want to concentrate on the existing city bus fleet,” Kumar said.
When contacted, managing director of JTDC Sunil Kumar said they would be too happy to hand over the buses to RMC although an official intimation from the civic body was yet to reach them.
“Ours is not an agency to run city buses, neither do we have the expertise. When we were roped in, we were forced to engage another agency for manpower management. Our own works are getting hampered,” Sunil Kumar said.