By Janakish Badapanda
The City of Temples has at last got its efficient city bus service in line with the metro cities of the country from October 10, 2010. From that auspicious day, Bhubaneswar has found its place in the list of developed cities of the country. Orissa Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has formally launched the plying of a fleet of buses at Kalinga Stadium at Bhubaneswar with much pomp and ceremony. 25 buses under the banner Bhubaneswar Puri Transport Services Limited (BPTSL) plied on only two routes in the city on the inaugural day. It has been promised that within a month, the fleet strength will increase to 100 and the service shall be extended to Puri, as scheduled.
The buses are making halts for five minutes in main stoppages, for two minutes in small stoppages and picking up passengers at numerous short stoppages throughout the routes. Although a list of stoppages has been identified, the same has not been notified at the designated bus stops. It is still uncertain that in the second phase, when and how many new town buses would be added to the fleet and whether the service shall be extended to four other routes in the city.
A MoU was signed earlier between Bhubaneswar-Puri Road Transport Service Limited (BPTSL) and Dream Team-Sahara (DTS) for operationalising bus services in Bhubaneswar and Puri. A total of 100 buses would be pressed into service in Bhubaneswar and 25 town buses would operate in Puri under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The city bus service has been initiated under the PPP mode between BPTSL and DTS. DTS is operating buses in these two cities only, which have been covered under JNURM, which bear s 20 per cent of the cost of buses as upfront fee, five per cent cost of the buses as performance guarantee, cost of insurance and registration of buses and also the annual maintenance cost of the buses. The Union government bears 80 per cent of the cost of buses while the remaining 20 per cent is being borne by the Orissa state government.
The dilapidated public transport system in the State capital was expected to get a facelift with the flagging off the much-awaited city bus service. Thanks to Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India for gifting town bus service to these two cities, failing which the city transport system would have deteriorated further. The tall claiming state government would not have introduced the service without central assistance. The bus service is expected to provide efficient service to the people of the city and those coming from outside.
It was told that the proposed city bus service has the facilities which are much better than the town services in any metro city. The project is over ambitious and unrealistic. Certain features such as smartly dressed staff, provision of switch near every seat to help the passenger to inform the driver to stop at the bus stop, automatic doors, computerized tickets, signage boards displaying the name of the approaching important halts and announcement through inbuilt sound system, are few examples.
Although the features available in each bus sound nice, it may not be useful at a later date. Few months back, Odisha tourism introduced Hop On & Hop Off bus service for the tourists. It failed miserably due to unrealistic treatment of the noble concept.
The people, who have regularly commuted through the city bus service elsewhere, understand well that our commuters look forward to certain aspects – subsidized cheaper tickets and safe & time bound journey. Now that the city bus service, comparable to other metro transport services, has been introduced in Bhubaneswar, it will be in the interest of DTS and BPTSL to withdraw the unnecessary luxury features attached to the buses with immediate effect and attend to the commuters’ suggestions. The front 5-6 rows are required to be reserved for ladies and the buses should not stop at any point other than the scheduled stops. Each bus is required to keep suitable time schedule and speed congenial to the passengers.
We are sure that the city traffic can be brought down by 60%, if the service is operated efficiently for about 3 months, if it proves to be trust worthy. We are also sure that the bus service will receive good response from the city residents. We request the commuters to make use of the service and bear with the teething problem – if any to be experienced initially.