Monday, 30th October 2017

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Dream wheels all set to roll out

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By SUBHASHISH MOHANTY
  • Published 1.09.10
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Bhubaneswar, Aug. 31: The long wait for city buses will end as Bhubaneswar and Puri will have public transport services within a month. The authorities have decided to run 100 buses in the capital and 25 buses in Puri.

The buses, procured by the state government with financial assistance from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), were lying idle since January as the state government initially did not take any initiative to form a transport authority to run the bus service.

The newly constituted government authority Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Services Limited (BPTSL) today signed an agreement with local transport agency Dream Team Shahara Services to run the services in the two cities.

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), the Orissa State Road Transport Corporation, the Puri-Konark Development Authority and the Puri Municipality are the stakeholders in BPTSL.

While 100 buses are scheduled to ply on six different routes in Bhubaneswar, 25 buses will travel on three routes in Puri.

Of the 100 buses, 50 standard buses with 38 seats each and 50 mini-buses with a seating capacity of 30 passengers will ply between Khurda-Master Canteen; Nandan Kanan-Airport, KIIT-Uttara Chhaka, Dumduma–VSS Nagar, Nuagaon-Phulnakahara and Khandagiri-Sai Temple in Bhubaneswar.

Five standard buses and 20 mini-buses will ply between Beach Road-Konark, Jagannath Temple-Master Canteen, and Jagannath Temple to Konark. The frequency of the buses will vary from 7 to 15 minutes during peak hours and 15 to 30 minutes during non-peak hours. The bus services will be available from 6am to 6pm.

“As per the memorandum of understanding, the state government will provide the BPTSL with infrastructure such as bus terminals at the origin and destination of every route. Planning of bus stops will also be done in a phased manner. Autorickshaw services in Bhubaneswar will not be affected. We have already consulted with the autorickshaw unions of the city in this regard,” housing and urban development secretary Arun Panda said.

Panda said: “The fare slab proposed is on the higher side. The actual fare cannot be more than the slab. We will revise the fare based on the automatic fare revision formula, which is linked to the hike in fuel prices.”

The BMC has a population of nearly 10 lakh and the city had a town bus service in the early ’80s and, at present, around 10 private mini-buses are plying in the city. At present, the city is mainly dependant on 12,000 autorickshaws for commutation.

Official sources had earlier said that autorickshaw unions were resisting the introduction of government bus services. Panda’s views were shared by Padman Samal, the general secretary of the Bhubaneswar Auto Mahasangha.

He said: “We will not be affected by the bus service. The government met our representatives and assured that the service will not affect business. This is because the buses will ply only on long-distance routes and the three-wheelers can serve them as feeders.” At present, autorickshaws charge between Rs 4 and Rs 10 depending on the distance.

Welcoming the decision, S.K. Rath, an employee of the Orissa Power Transmission Corporation, said, “The bus service will provide smooth and secured transport system in the capital. It is really an arduous journey to go to office in a crowded autorickshaw. One will also have to spend less money while travelling by bus.”

Bhubanajaya Mohanty, a diploma course student, said: “The service will be of great help to the students whose institutes are on the outskirts of the city. I have to travel almost 20km to reach my institution. The drivers carry five persons in an autorickshaw where one has to sit next to the driver, which is very risky.”

“It will be a welcome step as buses will be cheaper than autos and will cater to people of all classes,” said Nupur Pattanaik, a sociology student at the Utkal University.

“Today, we have given BPTSL a cheque for Rs 85 lakh. Another, Rs 2.55 crore will be paid this year. We will also pay BPTSL Rs 2.5 lakh every month towards route charges,” said Nishikanta Mishra, chairman of Dream Team Shahara Services.

Panda said that the buses had been purchased for Rs 17.5 crore. “The state government engaged the Urban Mass Transit Company, which is a government of India undertaking, as the transaction advisor. The Urban Mass Transit Company has prepared the route plan and stoppages after making a comprehensive study on the road network,” he added.

The state’s special secretary, commerce and transport department, has been designated as the chief executive officer of the BPTSL, BMC mayor is the chairman and the chairperson of the Puri Municipality has been made the vice-chairperson.