Admitting that racing by private buses on the same route was a menace, leading to accidents in the city, state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Thursday said West Bengal had the highest number of road fatalities, with between 5,000 and 6,500 people dying every year.
Metro-wise, however, Calcutta had the least number of road accidents. Explaining the reasons, the minister said rash driving and carelessness of pedestrians were the main causes, while a few accidents took place because of mechanical faults in vehicles.
Deputy commissioner of police (traffic) M.K. Singh had proposed that private bus-owners be asked to pay their drivers a salary, instead of a commission on total ticket sales. “The drivers get about 22 per cent of the total income from the running of buses, which is leading to rash driving by them when they try to fit in an extra trip, especially during office hours,” said Singh.
Chakraborty will have to discuss the idea with the bus-owners and the unions, before arriving at a decision. “When an eight-hour working day had been proposed earlier, they had not agreed.” Special checks were being made on bus tyres, as the Bantala accident, in which 40 people had died, and Tuesday’s truck accident on R.G. Kar Hospital Road in which three persons were killed, were because the vehicle tyres were worn out.
The government is buying 100 Telco and Ashok Leyland buses before and after the Pujas, Chakraborty said. “They will ply between Calcutta and Siliguri and Cooch Behar. Each bus will cost Rs 19 lakh and 70 per cent of the income from their plying will be deposited in banks for the payments,” the minister added.