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Govt drive for Volvo buses

The state government will run 63 Volvo buses in Calcutta, almost doubling the city’s fleet of air-conditioned buses.

A Rs 57-crore order has been placed. The buses should arrive from the company’s Bangalore workshop by March and hit the road by April.

The Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CTSC) would run these buses on routes that now have few — or no — AC buses. The move suggests even the state government understands that people are ready to pay a higher fare for better service. An air-conditioned bus in Calcutta charges between Rs 15 and Rs 75 for a ride. The fares on an ordinary bus range from Rs 5 to Rs 9.

“The routes for these buses have been worked out on the basis of the demand-and-supply scenario,” said transport minister Madan Mitra. “The government will introduce a few hundred such buses soon on other routes as well.”

The proposed routes are:

• Santragachhi-Ecospace (New Town)

• Kolkata Station-Unitech (New Town)

• Garia-Airport

• Parnasree-Sapoorji (New Town)

• Nabanna-New Town

• Shakuntala Park-Kolkata Station

• Golf Green-Dakshineswar

The Volvo purchase will be part-funded by the Centre under the JNNURM scheme.

The transport department has realised that AC buses can generate good revenue but it remains oblivious to the demands of fare hike for normal buses. “AC buses can’t be the answer to the city’s transport woes. What about private bus operators that are struggling to remain afloat?” said Tapan Bandopadhyay of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates.

Around 55 Volvo buses now operate in Calcutta and there are about 15 more AC buses. There are around 7,000 non-AC buses but over 1,600 of them have disappeared from the roads because the business has become unviable.