The Telegraph
Thursday , February 28 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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District pep pill for ailing city bus

East Singhbhum district administration on Wednesday prodded Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) to immediately repair dilapidated city buses currently standing idle at Baridih bus depot in Jamshedpur and rev up the JNNURM-sponsored public transport system.

Additional deputy magistrate (law and order) Ajit Shanker said the administration wanted all the buses to be in running condition. Right now, only 10 of the 50 city buses ply on three notified routes, a pale shadow of what it was planned during its debut in September 1, 2010.

“We have been told around 25 or half of the 50 allotted buses are not in running condition. They need repair and maintenance. We’ve asked JTDC to repair buses at the earliest so that they can ply on more designated routes,” the ADM said.

He added they were toying with the idea of appointing a local private agency to manage the daily affairs of the beleaguered city bus service.

“We had a discussion on this issue with JTDC officials. They agreed a local agency can be effective,” he said.

Tasks include maintaining the buses, tracking routes and fuel needs of each vehicle, collecting revenue every day and others to make the public transport live up to its name.

As of now, JTDC, headquartered in Ranchi, is starved of manpower to run the city bus in Jamshedpur. The private firm that ran the service earlier was also Ranchi-based.

Both, operating through “Ranchi remote control”, failed to monitor the bus service well. An agency based in the city may prove to be more hands-on and therefore able to streamline the system.

During a meeting held earlier this month, the local administration had also asked Regional Transport Authority (RTA) to give route charts to regulate plying of private buses in the city. The district administration had also asked JTDC to provide route charts.

Though February is over, both RTA and JTDC have not submitted route charts.

When contacted, a local JTDC official, who refused to come on record, said they were working out a fresh route chart and would hand it over to the ADM this weekend.

Even if these problems get ironed out, the JNNURM-sponsored city bus will face another emerging roadblock.

Private bus operators in the city have indicated they were in no mood to share road space with city buses. They also refused to allow city buses to use their Sakchi terminus.

Matters may get uglier.

Transport department sources said private bus operators might strike next week. “Operators will meet on Saturday to decide,” said a source. The ADM said they would not tolerate road rivalry. “If private operators oppose city buses, we seek legal action,” he said.