The Telegraph
Thursday , January 9 , 2014
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MIA: buses on road, tokens below Wait woe for home bound

With buses going MIA (missing in action) from roads, getting back home from work is a nightly ordeal for Calcuttans. Metro waited with harried commuters at some key crossings on Tuesday evening for a first-hand feel of the transport trauma.

Exide to New Town: 7.45pm

Antara Bhattacharya is resigned to a wait of a “minimum of 30 minutes” for a bus to take her home to New Town. Around 7pm, Antara takes a bus from outside her office on JL Nehru Road to the Exide crossing, where her wait begins for the Rabindra Sadan-New Town bus.

“I have waited only 20 minutes today. I will have to wait at least 10 more minutes,” said the 34-year-old professional on Tuesday evening.

And when a bus finally arrives, she sometimes has to skip it as it is too crowded.

In the morning rush to get to office by 8.50am, Antara depends on shuttle taxis. But she shuns the shuttle on her way back. “The shuttle taxis from Exide go up to Karunamayee in Salt Lake and not to New Town.” Also, they are not a safe option for women after sundown.

Rabindra Sadan to Belghoria: 7.15pm

For a young woman who has joined work six months ago, taking the Metro every day is “too expensive” but waiting for a bus holds her up for 30 to 40 minutes in the evening.

For Pinki Dutta, 23, an employee in the accounts department of a biscuit company on AJC Bose Road, work gets over around 7pm but she invariably has to wait till around 7.40pm for the bus on route number 230 to take her to Rathtala in north Calcutta.

“It is expensive to travel every day by Metro. Moreover my house is not on the route of Metro so I have to take a local train to Belghoria which is too crowded,” she said.

But depending on the bus makes Pinki feel that “the entire day is spent out of home, not just because of work but because of transport trouble”.

Jeevan Deep to Garia: 9.30pm

Tapash Hazra, 38, had switched from Metro to bus a month ago after the rail fares shot up but what he has saved in terms of pocket pinch he has lost in terms of time taken to reach home.

An employee of a real estate company on Camac Street, Hazra usually leaves work post-9pm and has to wait for “at least half an hour” at the Jeevan Deep crossing for a CSTC bus of route number 5 or 6 to take him home to Garia.

On Tuesday night, Metro spent close to 30 minutes with him from 9.30pm at the Middleton Street-JL Nehru Road crossing.

“Sometimes the wait even goes up to 45 minutes. Till a couple of months ago I would be home at 10pm but now I’m often not home even at 11pm,” said Hazra.

The Chowringhee stretch bore a deserted look. “The fare should be increased a little. It will not really hurt the passengers. We will at least not have to keep waiting like this,” grumbled Hazra.

At 10.10pm, a CSTC bus on route number 6 finally came to Hazra’s rescue.

Exide to Kakurgachhi: 8.30pm

After a hard day’s work, banker Nikhil Bhagat has to struggle to get back home, despite his office being centrally located.

The option for this 30-year-old is to take the buses that go to the airport. But given the “one in 30 minutes” frequency of those buses, he usually takes the Metro, gets down at Girish Park and then takes an auto to Kankurgachhi.

“Since it’s after 8pm today, I thought I would take a bus as it would be less crowded. But it’s been 25 minutes and I am still waiting,” said Bhagat.

In the morning rush, he often takes a taxi but while going back even hailing a cab at the Exide crossing is a tough ask. “If I stop a cab now, either they will refuse or charge Rs 20 or Rs 30 extra.”

Bhagat sums up the plight of the Calcutta commuter. “People say transportation is easy in Calcutta but ask those who travel every day. The ground reality is very different for us.”

How long on an average do you have to wait to catch a bus on your way to/from work? Tell