The Telegraph
Saturday , August 9 , 2014
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JTDC lifeline for nobody’s city bus
- Civic units told to take over in 3-4 months

Ranchi, Aug. 8: Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) will continue to manage and maintain the city bus service for three or four months more in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad, after which their respective civic corporations would, hopefully, manage public transport under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

JTDC, an autonomous body of state tourism department, and urban development department, the parent outfit of Ranchi Municipal Corporation, Dhanbad Municipal Corporation and Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee, have agreed to work under new arrangements during a meeting yesterday.

Under this, the state urban development department promised a grant of Rs 1 crore to the JTDC soon for bus insurance and road permit fees, tax tokens, tyre replacements and repairs. The JTDC will undertake the revamp and manage the service for another three-four months till respective city corporations constitute special purpose vehicles to run the bus fleet independently.

“Yes, we should get the money in 15 days. We have agreed to manage and maintain the city bus service for the next three-four months. Outsourced agencies in three cities will continue to run the buses. A board meeting of JTDC has been called on August 25 in which we may decide to invite fresh bids to appoint new agencies,” JTDC managing director Sunil Kumar told The Telegraph.

This June, the JTDC gave an ultimatum to urban development department and civic body bosses concerned that it wouldn’t be able to run the bus service from July 1, asking Ranchi Municipal Corporation, Dhanbad Municipal Corporation and Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee (JNAC) to take onus.

Following JTDC’s ultimatum, urban development department secretary A.K. Singh had said they would set up a special purpose vehicle comprising private partners under which a project management unit would run the city bus service.

“If this concept works in Ranchi municipality area, we can replicate it in Jamshedpur and Dhanbad. Let us first create the infrastructure and institutionalise it before taking concrete decisions,” he said.

However, so far no “concrete steps” had been taken, sources in the Ranchi civic body have conceded.

The dilapidated city buses are not only an eyesore, they are also an embarrassing reminder of the shoddily-run service.

In 2010, when the JNNURM city bus service was launched, with Ranchi and Dhanbad getting 70 buses each and Jamshedpur 50, and its operations handed over to the JTDC, it was deemed a stellar assignment set to change the face of affordable public transport in Jharkhand’s major cities.

It happened, but partially. Among the many problems that the city bus faced were poor vehicle maintenance, lax ticketing, manpower crunch and competition from existing autorickshaws.

For instance, diesel autos rule the roost in Ranchi. Over 5,000 diesel autos ply on the city but only around 2,000 have permits.

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