| Passengers inside an air-conditioned bus as it rolls out of Biju Patnaik Chhak in Cuttack on Wednesday. Picture by Badrika Nath Das |
Cuttack, Aug. 20: The air-conditioned (AC) city bus service was extended to the city from today.
Four Red Line buses were flagged from Biju Patnaik Chhak. This is for the first time that AC buses would operate from Cuttack to Puri via Bhubaneswar.
Now, commuters can travel comfortably on the buses running round the clock. There would be a 90-minute gap between the arrival and departure of a bus.
The AC buses will start journey from Biju Patnaik Chhak and pick up passengers from Sati Choura en route Badambadi and move towards Puri via Kalpana Square in Bhubaneswar.
“We were waiting for the AC bus facility to be extended to Cuttack. Earlier, if we wanted to go to Puri on the AC bus, we had to go to Bhubaneswar and take it from there. We had to travel to Bhubaneswar in order to travel in an AC city bus to Puri. But now, we can take such a bus right from here,” said Seikh Bazar resident Sachidananda Behera.
A passenger has to pay Rs 170 to travel from Biju Patnaik Chhak to Puri. The fare from Badambadi to Puri will be Rs 150, and it will cost Rs 50 to travel to Bhubaneswar.
Several passengers have expressed their displeasure over the fares that they claim are too high. The fare for travelling in private non-AC buses to Puri is around Rs 80 from Cuttack.
“There is a difference in the fare for travelling in the AC buses from various locations within the city.
“The fare, particularly from Badambadi, should be slashed, so that maximum passengers are able to use this facility,” said Sanjay Sahu, a commuter.
The existing city bus service is operating in the public private partnership (PPP) mode, run by Dream Team Shahara (DTS), the private operator, and Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Services Limited (BPTSL), a government body. A DTS official said the fare had been fixed keeping in view the services being provided to the passengers, who could save time by travelling on these buses.
“At present, other buses operating from Cuttack to Puri take over three hours to cover a the 90km. However, a passenger can travel to Puri in just two hours by AC buses that have limited stops,” said chief executive officer of the DTS Sudhanshu Jena.
Jena said that at present, nearly 125 city buses (non-AC) and 12 AC buses operating between Cuttack-Bhubaneswar and Puri, and there had been a positive response from the passengers.
Closed-circuit television cameras have also been installed in the air-conditioned buses for the safety of passengers, especially women.
“There is a proposal of adding 10 more buses to the existing fleet of non-AC buses by November end. We are also planning to come up with more benefits for the smart card holders in the form of discounts on fares,” Jena said.