Kolkata: Returning home a challenge as buses disappear in evening – Times of India

Kolkata News

KOLKATA: With most restricting the number of daily trips to just three, buses on roads post 6pm are becoming scarce. The number of buses during the busy evening hours are dropping by almost 50%, forcing commuters to huff and puff while looking for other modes of transport. The plight has turned for the worse with WBTC cutting down on its second-half services quoting the diesel crisis at depots.
Swapan Ghosh, joint secretary of the Minibus Operators’ Coordination Committee, said that barely three routes — Golf Green-Howrah, Tangra-Howrah and Behala-Rajabazar — out of the 52 under them are making full four trips. “While 12 routes are now defunct, most others are running with four to 10 buses,” he said.
Bus owners said they were following two strategies — long-route buses are taking two to three trips without a break and then going to the garage. Shorter ones are making two trips in the morning — one for morning schools and one for office. The entire afternoon goes idle before the last trip is made between 4pm and 6pm. “We are not taking the risk of sending the buses back to central Kolkata or Howrah as we cannot risk spending Rs 3,500-Rs 4,000 on diesel costs,” claimed an owner.
“With the diesel price touching the Rs 100-per-litre mark, bus owners have been pushed to their limits. The passenger count has dropped. Several are still working from home. Besides, many people commute by two-wheelers. How can our industry survive like this?” wondered Tapan Bandyopadhyay of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, one of the oldest unions of private bus operators in Kolkata. “The first car timing has changed from 4.30am to 6.30am. The last trip now is at 7pm-7.30 pm instead of 9.30pm-9.45pm,” he added.
“It took me over 35 minutes at Esplanade to board a bus for Behala. There were no buses and the ones that came were packed to capacity. In this pandemic situation, this is an extremely uncomfortable ride. I boarded on the footboard and it was not before Kidderpore that I could step inside,” said Soumen Bagchi, a medical representative.
Santanu Majhi of Hatibagan had to spend close to 40 minutes to board a bus. “When I did, I got off after three stops as it was extremely crowded. I changed autos thrice to get back home,” said Majhi.
Operators said around 22 buses would ply on the KB-15 route, between Anandapur off EM Bypass and Santragachhi, daily. Eight or nine buses were withdrawn from the route during the day. In the north, about 60 buses are now operational on route 230, between Kamarhati and Alipore zoo. Around 25 of them didn’t operate on Tuesday.
“In June, we had to spend Rs 3,200 for 40 litres of diesel. Now, we pay Rs 4,500. The passenger count has gone down rapidly,” said Pradip Narayan Bose of the West Bengal Bus and Minibus Owners’ Association.

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/returning-home-a-challenge-as-buses-disappear-in-evening/articleshow/90694823.cms