| Chief minister Naveen Patnaik flags off the air-conditioned city bus service from Puri on Sunday. Picture by Sarat Patra |
Bhubaneswar, June 22: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today inaugurated the air-conditioned city bus service between the state capital and the holy town of Puri at the Puri Town Hall.
The buses were launched with an eye on the forthcoming annual rath yatra during which more than 10 lakh people congregate in Puri to see Lord Jagannath, who comes out of his temple with his brother and sister to give darshan to the devotees.
The launch of this air-conditioned bus service under the name of DTS Redline is a part of the project to link Puri with Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
The bus service operators hoped that the car festival would give them good income. The air-conditioned bus service has witnessed poor passenger turnout in the capital city.
Four red-coloured AC buses will ply between Puri and Bhubaneswar every day. Officials said that the fare in these cool buses would be just double of the normal bus fare.
“While people had to pay Rs 43 in normal city buses to go to Puri from Bhubaneswar or vice versa, they will have to pay Rs 80 here. However, anyone preferring places in between will have to play Rs 16 for first three kilometres and Rs 2 for every kilometre after that,” said chief executive officer of the Dream Team Shahara, the private operator of the city bus service.
Officials of the Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Services Limited, the government body managing the service, said that unlike the first phase of the service, this phase would yield them good revenue.
Though the service started during the rath yatra festive period, many people come to this city from Bhubaneswar every day and it would be an attractive mode of transportation for them.
“We do not feel that the operators will incur loss on this route,” said Bhubaneswar mayor Anant Narayan Jena, who is also the chairman of the BPTSL.
Besides the DTS Redline, normal city buses have been plying from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack and these fleet has been providing good service to the local residents as well tourists.
While two buses will start from Puri, as many will ply from Bhubaneswar. The officials said that the bus names would be displayed both in English and Odia. They are also planning to make announcements in the bus in both the languages.
The city bus service, which started in Bhubaneswar in October 2010, expanded to Puri, Cuttack and Khurda in last over three and half years. Though it had been initially planned for Bhubaneswar and Puri, Cuttack was later added on the city bus map following direction of Orissa High Court.
In another development, officials in the DTS said that there had been certain problems over parking of the buses in Puri. Earlier, private bus operators had also been opposing the city bus service.
An official said that though these buses were owned by the government, the authorities did not provide any dedicated parking lot for the city bus service. Though the government has bus stands for the buses of the Odisha State Road Transport Corporation, it has not yet made any arrangement to park the city buses in the OSRTC bus stands.
“Tomorrow, we have a meeting with the district authorities and other stakeholders along with private bus operators to sort out these problems,” said an official.
However, tourists hoped that this service would be of great use to them. “In scorching summer, it will be really comfortable to travel in these buses. I hope many people will like this service,” said Sutapa Das, a frequent visitor to Puri.