The Telegraph
Friday , January 18 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buses for short hauls

The new routes
New Town (Shapoorji Housing Estate located in Action Area III, Aloka/Balaka Abasan) to Ultadanga via Sector V and Salt Lake. About 12 buses would operate on this route.
New Town (Shapoorji Housing Estate/Aloka/ Balaka Abasan) to Airport via MAR and VIP Road. About five buses would ply on this route.
New Town (Akankha Housing Estate, Action Area II) to Ultadanga via Chinar Park. Three buses would ply on the route.

The long waits at the bus stand in search of illusive public transport may get shorter in New Town. The Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) has sought permits from the public vehicles department (PVD) to run buses on three short routes to strengthen New Town’s connectivity to the rest of the city.

“New Town is a growing township and has special needs that must be taken care of. The township is not only home to a large body of residents but is also a place of work and centre for education for many professionals and students. Though the emphasis is on providing good connectivity to the rest of Calcutta, connectivity within the township is equally important. The bus routes have been designed in such a fashion that areas which are located far from the Main Arterial Road (MAR) would be connected as well,” said Debasish Sen, chairman cum managing director of Hidco.

At present, the bus routes that are operating are mostly those that connect the airport to the rest of Calcutta via New Town MAR. The interior pockets of the township are thus neglected.

The Hidco officials have chalked out three routes where 20 non air-conditioned buses would operate.

Said a senior official of Hidco: “These 20 non air-conditioned buses that would ply on the three new routes used to ply from the airport to Ruby General Hospital via New Town MAR. But they would stop plying once we receive permits for the new routes from the PVD.”

Buses on routes 215 A and 215A/1 that ply from Mahisbathan to Howrah station at present are also expected to extend to New Town.

Even on the routes currently in service, the connectivity is good only during office hours. And residents have to depend on lifts in shuttle cars especially when it comes to travelling from one point of New Town to another.

"There is only one bus 12C/2 that stops near our complex, going from Aquatica to Howrah. For short distances, there is nothing," says Krishna Chowdhury of Balaka Abasan. Chowdhury works at IEM at College More, which is 3km from his complex. "But I have to take two autos to get there since there is no direct bus. The round trip costs me around Rs 30. By chance, if there are no autos and I have to take a cycle rickshaw, a ride to the box bridge alone costs Rs 20."

Chowdhury was forced to buy a bike in 2011 as there was no conveyance around his house. "We badly need buses to Chingrihata, Karunamoyee, Axis Mall and Home Town," he says.

"There are no bus or auto routes to take us to Home Town or Axis Mall. We can hop into one and get off on the MAR but we still have to walk a long way before we reach these malls," says Srimati Mukherjee of Animikha complex. "That is not possible for senior citizens. There is no rickshaw stand either. One has to request any passing rickshaw-puller a day before to ensure a ride." Some residents even keep mobile numbers of rickshaw-pullers.

Office-goers too have complaints regarding the existing transport scenario. "It becomes difficult to board a bus even after waiting for about half an hour. I once slipped and fell while boarding a bus but there is no alternative but to board a crowded one," said Swagata Rana, an employee of IBM and a resident of Ajoynagar.

Another resident of Salt Lake, Kaushik Dutta said that he has to either go to Technopolis to take a bus that would take him to Nicco Park or travel to Karunamoyee to get an auto to take him home. "I keep an extra hour in hand while going to my office at Unitech Infospace, located in Action Area III. It is both tiring and expensive," said the software engineer from HA Block.

Sucheta Chakraborty