With several Kolkata-based private bus operators demanding an increase in fares to resume services, the West Bengal transport department has roped in long-distance private bus operators to run their fleets in the city to meet the demand in the eastern metropolis, officials said on Sunday.
Though some local private bus operators have recommenced services in Kolkata since last week, the number of vehicles on the roads is less than normal, causing trouble to commuters, they said.
The long-distance bus operators, on the other hand, have been sitting idle since the imposition of the lockdown and have not yet restarted their services on intra-state routes due to less demand despite the easing of restrictions.
They have agreed to ply air-conditioned buses on several routes in Kolkata from Monday onwards and charge fares fixed by the state transport authority, the officials said.
The long-distance bus operators have hailed it as a ‘win-win’ situation for both the state transport department and them.
“Most of our buses were sitting idle as employees in IT hub Sector V are working from home but on the other hand, office-goers and common people in other places are facing a harrowing time in getting buses to reach their destinations,” Souvik Biswas of Hexa Ride, a mobile application-based bus service between Kolkata and its neighbouring districts, said.
His firm will run 30 buses on the Garia-Barasat and Garia-Howrah station routes.
Dhananjay Singh of Kaushik Global Logistics said the company has got permission from the transport department to run 20 buses between Barasat and Dalhousie. He said the firm will decide on running more buses depending on the demand.
“We run these buses on Kolkata-Siliguri, Kolkata- Asansol and other long-distance routes. But since there is very little demand despite easing of the lockdown, we have not recommenced our services,” he said.