| Chief minister Naveen Patnaik flags off city bus service in Puri and (below) the brand new fleet of buses. Pictures by Sarat Patra |
Bhubaneswar, June 22: Wait for the city bus service is finally over for residents of Puri. The service was inaugurated by chief minister Naveen Patnaik today, who flagged off a bus from the Digabareni Khunta near the sea beach.
Five buses will run on the route for now and a passenger would have to spend Rs 30 to reach Bhubaneswar and vice-versa. Surprisingly, the city bus service named Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Service Limited (BPTSL) took more than eight months to reach Puri although the service began in Bhubaneswar last year on October 10.
Even Cuttack, which was not in the list of the city bus service earlier, was included in the service following demand from the general public and later by a directive from Orissa High Court. Cuttack was included with a fleet of 10 buses on May 16.
“Tomorrow a free ride has been planned for passengers of Puri and Bhubaneswar, so that they would come, feel and enjoy the ride between two temple towns,” said a senior official of Dream Team Sahara (DTS), operator of the bus service on behalf of BPTSL.
As per the DTS plan, five big buses would ply between Bhubaneswar and Puri. While 12 small buses would ply between Puri and Konark, eight would ply in the city itself. Though the fee for the Puri-Bhubaneswar route has been finalised, the rate for Puri-Konark route is yet to be decided. Inside the holy city the rate would vary from Rs 4 to Rs 30.
As per the package designed by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Puri was to get a share of 25 buses, and Bhubaneswar 100, for the need of the city bus services. But, till date there are only 65 running in Bhubaneswar, 10 in Cuttack and five have been scheduled for Puri. According to sources, out of the 125 buses purchased for BPTSL, 45 are still lying idle and they are currently at the stockyards of the respective companies.
According to sources, out of the big buses manufactured by Tata and small buses manufactured by Swaraj Mazda, 10 and 35 buses, respectively, are now lying at two stockyards at Patrapada and Mancheswar.
“In fact, as operators we cannot say anything on those buses, but they are safe with the company people and there is nothing to panic. They would be used once more routes are added to the bus service,” said Sudhansu Jena, chief executive officer of DTS.
Ananta Narayan Jena, chairman of BPTSL and mayor, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, said: “The buses would soon be included in the service once the preliminary work for the infrastructure development is over. We are going to place the signage in at least at 400 places across the city. Also, construction of the main terminal at Pokhariput will be ready within June 30 where nearly 125 buses can be parked.”
However, senior officials of the DTS are still not happy with the pace of the infrastructure support for the city bus service for the three cities. While the legal problem relating to parking of vehicles at two terminals in Puri — Narendrakona and Jatrika — are yet to be over, places for origin destination terminals at five places in Bhubaneswar and two in Cuttack have still not been identified.
“The bus depot to be made ready by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority at Pokhariput is not a terminal, but technically a place for maintenance of 125 buses. But the infrastructure is quite inadequate. The depot does not have proper water source, ramps or even rest rooms for drivers and conductors,” said another DTS official.