After a week’s debate among private bus operators, they seem to have reached a settlement as 50 percent of the city’s private bus force is slated to hit the road from Thursday. The remaining half will be operational by the weekend, said transport minister Suvendu Adhikari. Bus fares will not be raised for the time being, as commuters heave a sigh of relief.
“At least half the private bus fleet will be on the road immediately. The rest will join in a couple of days when they become roadworthy after two months of lying idle,” Tapan Bandopadhyay, secretary, Joint Council of Bus Syndicates (JCBS), said.
More routes will be cleared for the state-run buses to operate, while the opposite is true for the private bus fleet. They will be allowed to run on 31 routes from Wednesday in Kolkata, 15 in Howrah, 26 in North 24 Parganas, and 20 in South 24 Parganas. Currently, out of the 5,583 private buses in Kolkata, 350 buses and 16 minibusses have been operational. 750 WBTC buses are running on more than 150 routes in the city as of Wednesday, while 241 routes are open to 104 SBSTC buses.
In many parts of the city, people have actively violated the rule of maximum passengers in a bus, forcibly stopping and boarding buses while throwing social distancing norms out of the window.
Wednesday saw the charging of a higher fare than usual while operating with only seating-capacity passengers.
Transport minister Suvendu Adhikary assured denizens of the city that no bus fare hike will take place, even as buses of the Bengal Bus Syndicate charged higher fares. He has also assured that an independent bus fare regulatory committee will be fixing rates considering the operating cost of buses.