Access denied is the key to a decongestion drive.
Wielding the no-entry board as a weapon to clear the central business district, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has stopped issuing permits to buses plying via Esplanade, Babughat, Howrah station and the approach to Howrah bridge.
The intended impact is three-fold. First, ease the traffic burden on the choked central district. Second, reduce vehicle count and the consequent jams on Rabindra Setu. Finally, increase volume of traffic on the under-utilised Vidyasagar Setu.
All new permits either for buses entering the city from Howrah or leaving the city by crossing the Hooghly, will henceforth be via Vidyasagar Setu . A notification issued by the state transport department on Monday, which comes into effect “immediately”, lays down that:
ýNo new permits will be issued to buses passing through the central business district like Esplanade and Bandstand (Babughat) in Calcutta, Howrah station and the approaches to Howrah bridge, till further orders
ýNo new permits will be issued to commercial public vehicles originating/terminating at Esplanade, Bandstand or Howrah Station
ýNo new bus routes will be introduced in the central business district
ýNo new routes will be created/formulated anywhere in the city or Howrah without creating any appropriate parking place and having requisite amenities for both passengers and transport workers
ýNo new permits will be issued to autorickshaws operating within the Calcutta Metropolitan Area (Calcutta, Howrah, parts of North and South 24-Parganas and Hooghly).
“At any given point of time, there are 15 buses lined up on the same spot on any of these roads, trying to pick up passengers. The central business district doesn’t require any more buses,” said a transport department official.
Also, more buses must be diverted to Vidyasagar Setu.
“The second Hooghly bridge is under-utilised, with a mere 35,000 vehicles plying daily, whereas its capacity is 80,000. New buses plying from the southern parts of the city to Howrah and beyond will have to use Vidyasagar Setu. The same will hold for buses entering the city from Howrah,” added the official.
The move aims at preventing more buses adding to the chaos on Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Lenin Sarani, Government Place, Old Court House Street, BBD Bag (South), Brabourne Road, Strand Road, Howrah Bridge Approach and RN Mukherjee Road, otherwise referred to as the central business district.
The state transport department also wants bus-owners to ensure spacious depots for night parking.
“There is no parking space for buses at night and vehicles are mostly lined up along the streets. Permits will not be issued unless the owners show us details of where their depots are located and how adequately they will accommodate the buses,” said the official.