Bhubaneswar, Feb. 19: The comfort of cool travel will shortly become a reality with authorities deciding to add air-conditioned (AC) buses to the city’s existing fleet.
Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Services Limited (BPTSL), the government body managing the bus service, has procured 12 AC buses that would ply in and between Cuttack, Puri and Bhubaneswar.
In the first phase, the authorities plan to launch four AC buses.
The buses, which were bought last year, could not roll out as a decision on fares for various routes was not taken. Later, a fare revision committee was constituted to decide on the tariff after studying AC bus fares in cities across the country.
At the BPTSL meeting, held today, it was decided to fix the fare for the first 3km at Rs 16, while for every additional kilometre a passenger has to pay Rs 2 more.
This means that if a commuter boards an AC bus from Kalpana Square in Bhubaneswar to go to Puri, which is 55 kilometres away, the passenger would pay Rs 120. At present, the non-AC city bus charges Rs 43 for the same distance.
“A proposal has been sent to the housing and urban development department to approve the fare. Besides, we have sought a date from chief minister Naveen Patnaik to launch the buses. We have fixed February 24 and 25 as the tentative dates,” said mayor and BPTSL chairman A.N. Jena.
These 35 seat low-floored buses were purchased for Rs 65 lakh each from a Lucknow-based company in November last.
Besides providing comfort to passengers, the buses have been fitted with closed-circuit television cameras to keep an eye on errant passengers and ensure safety of women.
The closed-circuit television footage will be archived and monitored by private operator of the bus service Dream Team Shahara (DTS) and the BPTSL.
An official said the buses would ply on routes that had greater passenger volume.
“The three routes are Airport to Nandankanan via Infosys and KIIT, Cuttack to Puri and Bhubaneswar to Puri,” said BPTSL CEO Sanjib Mishra.Officials of the DTS are hopeful about the success of the new buses.
“We hope that our passengers will accept the new buses. Those who love comfort will definitely opt for it,” said DTS chairman Nishikant Mishra.
In addition to the AC buses, today’s meeting also decided to add 60 non-AC buses by March end.
These buses have already been purchased and will take the number of non-AC buses to 185. The meeting also decided that take strict action against ticket-less travellers.
“They will be booked under the Motor Vehicle Act and penalised,” said an official.
In another move, the DTS officials also decided to have around 50 additional stops in Bhubaneswar.
A survey to finalise the new stops is under way. A DTS official said survey for 10 routes had been completed. There are 385 bus stops for the 17 routes.
He said addition of the stops had become necessary with a number of major establishments coming up in the city over the past three years.
“The city bus service is now running for three years. As a number of major establishments have come up in the city, we need to add a few stops. At the same time, passenger footfall is low at certain stops. These will be scrapped after the survey identifies them,” said chief executive officer of the DTS Sudhansu Jena.