The Telegraph
Monday , June 19 , 2017

Halt, but not at bus stop

Bhubaneswar, June 18: Encroachment of bus stops by goons and urban homeless has become common across the city, making them unsafe for commuters.

If encroachments were not enough, commuters complained that though they wait at these stops braving inconvenience, buses hardly halted at these designated spots.

"Buses never stop at these halts. Instead, they stop to pick up or drop passengers at random places," said Nayapalli resident Paritosh Acharya, a daily bus commuter.

The practice of buses to skip these halts makes it easier for encroachers to occupy these stops. Several of these stops, especially the bigger ones at Chandrasekharpur, Satya Nagar, Patia, Nayapalli, Shastri Nagar and Niladri Vihar, make for a perfect cover for criminals. They use these stops as alcohol and drug joints and other nefarious activities. Empty liquor bottles are often found strewn at these bus stops.

"I wait for buses at the Satya Nagar halt every evening. This bus stop lacks adequate lighting and goons can be seen drinking alcohol and taking drugs here. The police and the administration prefer to look the other way even though it is located at a strategic location on the Janpath. The cops should crack the whip on them," said Rasulgarh resident Niraj Hota, a corporate employee.

Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Services Limited (BPTSL) and the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been jointly operating city bus services here since 2010. The BPTSL takes care of the buses, while the civic body maintains bus stops across the city.

"We have directed the bus drivers to make halts at every bus stop. They do stop if they find people waiting at the stop. It is true that the buses also stop at random places to pick up and drop passengers. We will look into it if the drivers are leaving passengers behind," said a senior official of the BPTSL.

Asked about the activities at the bus stops and problems of bus commuters, mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said the civic body was shortly going to revamp the city bus services and renovate the stops.

"We are going to put steel frame and railing at the bus stops with digital board providing information about the buses. It will be done under the city bus modernisation plan. We will also ask the police to conduct patrolling to stop the illegal activities at the stops," said Jena.

The BPTSL operates about 100 intra-city buses on 10 city routes. The number of daily bus passengers is around 33,000. The administration proposes to revamp the city bus services under the Smart City Mission.

Earlier, the authorities had decided to introduce more buses and high-standard bus stops and depots. There are also plans to increase the number of buses to about 500 in the near future.

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