Having failed to stop chartered buses from plying on the roads, the government has decided to legalise their operation, under certain terms and conditions.
By the new rules, chartered buses used as schoolbuses or to ferry office-goers will have to obtain a permit from the public vehicles department (PVD), mentioning the specific routes they will take. The PVD, officials said, would issue the permit for a fee, after verifying the necessity of the route and the vehicle’s papers.
“Operators are plying vehicles in the city as chartered buses without valid permits. This is illegal. All vehicles used for commercial purposes must have permits. If any operator wants to ply his vehicle on any specific route and at a selected time, he will have to obtain a permit,’’ said PVD director H. Mohan.
A large number of operators had registered their vehicles as ‘private carriers’ but were using them commercially. “We have warned the operators several times. Now, we are giving them a chance to get their vehicles legalised,” Mohan added.
Obtaining a permit will be mandatory even if any vehicle is rented out for marriages or conducted tours. “Vehicles operating as chartered buses on any specific route will have to get a contract-carriage permit. These vehicles, however, will not be allowed to stop midway to take passengers,’’ the PVD director said.
According to transport department officials, nearly 2,000 chartered buses ply daily in and around the city, of which about 500 run without a valid permit. Bus and minibus operators have lodged complaints with the state transport department, claiming that they lose income because of these illegal chartered buses.
Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty met PVD officials last week and asked that chartered bus operators be given a last chance to legalise their trade. “They have turned down my appeals not to ply vehicles without a permit. We can impound all their buses within 24 hours, but that would mean a lot of people losing their livelihood. We have to be strict. We’ll wait some days for the operators to get a permit. Otherwise, we’ll take them off the streets,” Chakraborty said.
West Bengal Contract Carriage Association spokesperson Himadri Ganguly said all cooperation would be extended to the transport department in taking action against illegal buses.