The state-run Odisha Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) will run luxury AC buses between Bhubaneswar to Kolkata from the first of November. Transport minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi today flagged off two premium Volvo vehicles from the city to inaugurate the bus service from Puri to Kolkata via Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
As of now, road connectivity between Bhubaneswar and Kolkata is dominated by private players who often charge more than the usual rate of Rs 460, especially during weekends and peak holiday season. These buses wait for passengers who are willing to pay more (sometimes as high as Rs 600) and refuse those who don’t want to shell out the amount.
Around 10 private luxury buses ply on the route on a daily basis. The commercial potential of the route has dawned on Odisha Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC), which launched premium buses between the two cities earlier today.
In the first phase, two 45-seater Volvo buses will run on the route from November 1.
The premium bus service, called ‘Airavata Gold‘, will reduce travel time by one hour to Kolkata because of improved roads and four-lane highways, said Majhi.
He added that the bus service would meet the demands of passengers in the premium segment. The private buses that now run on the route take about eight hours to reach Kolkata from Bhubaneswar. These buses stop at Baleswar, besides Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The OSRTC luxury buses, however, will not stop anywhere except Bhubaneswar and Cuttack along with a midway halt for refreshments.
“Most states already have Volvo, Scania and other modern and comfortable buses. Odisha, too, wants to excel in the premium travel segment,” Majhi said.
The fare charged by the private operators is Rs 460, while OSRTC will charge Rs 450 for a one-way trip between the two cities.
Majhi said the luxury buses would take around half-an-hour less than Shatabdi Express, which takes seven-and-a-half hours from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata.
Passengers traveling on Airavata Gold will be given a clean blanket and a water bottle. They will also be provided roadside amenities at midway stops with eateries and clean toilets.
Besides, the OSRTC will shortly operate buses from the city airport to Cuttack and Puri. A decision to run Scania buses on the route has already been taken by the state carrier, said Majhi.
The 45-seater luxury buses will provide comfortable travel to passengers from the city’s airport to both destinations. The move is aimed at providing more options for travel to the passengers, said the minister, adding that the fare structure would be finalized shortly. The buses will have a stoppage at Kalpana Square, said sources, to take in more passengers from Bhubaneswar.
Sources: The Telegraph