A fleet of 20 brand new buses bought by the state government in 2014 is gathering dust in the courtyard of an automobile showroom on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The buses were scheduled to be pressed into service under the state-run city bus service in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Khurda and Puri.
In 2013, the state government announced to add 60 more buses to the existing routes for the convenience of commuters. In 2014, the urban development department bought the buses for nearly Rs 20 crore and handed over only 40 buses to the DTS.
We wrote several letters to the Bhubaneswar Puri Transport Service Limited (BPTSL), a body formed by the housing and urban development department, that manages the bus service, to provide us the 20 buses, but we do not know why the BPTSL is delaying it. The buses will develop mechanical snags if kept idle.
Nishikant Mishra, chairman of Dream Team Sahara (DTS)
At present, 165 city buses, including 12 AC vehicles, are plying on different routes in Bhubaneswar, Khurda, Puri and Cuttack.
The state government’s nonchalant attitude to improve the public transport system comes at a time when the city was included under the Center-sponsored Smart City project recently.
BPTSL chairman A N Jena admitted that the buses have been lying unused since long. He attributed the delay to the BPTSL’s plan of engaging another private agency to operate the bus service.
To ensure competition and better revenue generation, we had sent a proposal to the housing and urban development department to engage another operator to run the 20 buses. We will soon take a decision to finalize the operator.
A N Jena, BPTSL Chairman
However, DTS expressed shock over the BPTSL’s plan of hiring a second operator to run the city bus service. As per sources, DTS earlier signed an agreement with BPTSL and paid requisite bank guarantee to run the bus service.
We do not know why the BPTSL wants a second operator.
Sudhansu Jena, DTS chief executive officer
Courtesy: Times of India