One of the six repaired buses plies from Sakchi to Sundernagar on Tuesday. (Bhola Prasad)
Commuters heaved a sigh of relief as the beleaguered city bus service gained fleet strength with six repaired vehicles hitting the road on Tuesday.
These half a dozen buses will ply on three new routes — from Sakchi to Patamda, Sundernagar and Adityapur, and also back.
Until now, 10 city buses operated on three designated routes — from Sakchi to Tatanagar, Bundu and Rangamati and vice versa — ferrying over 8,000 passengers every day. Around 6,000 more people are likely to avail of the new routes daily.
Sources in Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC), which runs the bus service in this mission city, said the six buses were idling at the Baridih depot.
They underwent necessary repairs and fitness tests before being pressed into service for economic public transport.
Now, anything pocket-friendly always makes the aam aadmi happy.
“The city bus service is economical and hence, a more popular mode of transport. Thanks to the new bus routes, I can now ditch auto-rickshaws, which cost me almost double,” said Sundernagar resident Anil Mahto who works in a private sector bank in SNP area of Sakchi.
Suraj Kumar, who took a trip from Sakchi to Adityapur on Tuesday, said JTDC-run city buses were a better option than private ones. “Private buses charge more and are less frequent. I hope the city bus service improves further in the future.”
A JTDC official, S.K. Jha, who looks after services from Baridih depot, said that efforts were being made to strengthen the fleet further and open new routes for the convenience of commuters.
“If all the 50 buses (allotted to the city under JNNURM) were in running condition, we could have introduced the public transport services in more than 10 routes,” Jha said.
He added that they had plans to gradually increase the number of buses on road and, hence, the routes.
“But, for this, we need active co-operation from the district administration. We have also approached local administrations for resolving the issue of bus stops and problems we face from private operators,” Jha said.
Officials at Baridih bus depot further said that efforts were being made by JTDC to ensure that the service did not get affected for want of drivers and support staff.
“We have asked the City Bus Karamchari Sangh to help us recruit more drivers and conductors,” an official added.
The JNNURM-sponsored buses were introduced in the city in 2010. Since then, the service has witnessed as many as 50 strikes by drivers and conductors over payment dues.
JTDC officials said that though the service was not incurring operational losses, proper upkeep was difficult without a dedicated fund.
What other routes do you want city buses to ply on?