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Old bus haunts to get facelift for autos

The swanky, new bus queue shelters might have driven the old, encroached bus stands out of the city’s frame, but it might be premature to write them off altogether.

A newcomer to the city can hardly be expected to look at the old bus stops and guess what purpose they were built for. For, hawkers have encroached upon most of them, while some even serve as people’s homes. Then there are those that have turned into dens for illegal activity. But, thankfully, for residents, the state urban development and housing department seems to have a plan to turn these old bus stops around.

Urban development and housing minister Samrat Choudhary said on Wednesday they would soon send written directions to private agencies who have set up billboards at these bus stands to work towards renovating them.

“Bus queue shelters have started coming up. There will be 216 shelters at 108 spots, each spot having two shelters. However, the department has not ignored the existing bus stops of Patna and plans to develop them, too, and use them in a proper way,” the minister told The Telegraph.

Sources said the authorities plan to change these old bus stops, maintained by the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC), into dedicated ones for autorickshaws and private city ride buses.

Patna Traffic superintendent of police (SP) Rajeev Mishra confirmed on Thursday the plan was discussed with the urban development department and BUIDCo.

“Things have been discussed in detail. The plan is good. These old bus stops are ignored now but they are at strategic locations and easily accessible. Autorickshaws can easily stop there to pick and drop passengers. The police have had a round of talks in this regard with the autorickshaw union, too. One of the major reasons why roads get blocked in Patna is because these three-wheelers stop suddenly anywhere in the middle of the road to pick up and drop passengers,” Mishra said.

Department sources said they were working on a plan under which the old bus stands can be brought to use.

“Many autorickshaws ply in Patna and they are the root cause of traffic jams and accidents as they stop suddenly in the middle of the road. It would help reduce traffic woes if the old bus stands, lying unused and uncared for and encroached, are developed as dedicated autorickshaw stands, complete with facilities like lights. These stands are located across the city. Auto drivers will have no problems using them. The plan can be implemented with a little help from the Patna traffic police and district administration.

“We are ready to provide them all possible help to implement this plan,” Traffic SP Mishra said.

Another department official said: “Even private City Ride buses face the same problem. The old bus stands can serve as stops for them too. The department is mulling these ideas and a decision will be taken soon.”

A day ago, the minister had said: “The old bus stands are with private agencies and companies that have put advertisement billboards on them. Under the PPP (public- private partnership) model, the agencies are responsible for their upkeep.”

He further said: “It is a fact that the old bus stops have been ignored and most of them have been encroached on. The department will soon direct these companies to work towards their proper maintenance. The department will request PMC to ensure the same. If the same is not done even after written directions, new agencies will be called in and the bus stops handed over to them. The old contracts would be cancelled.”

Unless revived in a big way, the old bus stops would stick out like sore thumbs against the bus queue shelters, the first of which came up recently along Bailey Road in front of Mount Carmel School.

The new shelter has two CCTV cameras and a GPS system in addition to proper lighting and seating facility. Semi-low-floor buses (Tata Marcopolo) would stop at these shelters to pick up passengers from this Independence Day.

Forty of the 260 buses that would ply have already arrived. These buses would be operated by Bihar Urban Transport Services Limited, a special purpose vehicle notified by the urban development and housing department on December 9 last year.