BHUBANESWAR: Traffic problems created by city buses stopping in the middle of the road might end soon. As many as 21 bus bays are set to start functioning from September 1. "We will start using these halts from September 1 as the government is set to announce their readiness by August 31. From then on, we will not allow buses to halt at places other than these designated ones," said Nishikant Mishra, chairman of Dream Team Sahara, which operates the buses started under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
Presently, buses stop in the middle of the roads right next to these ready-to-use bays. A bay near IDCO tower at Rupali Square is being used as a car park by visitors to the tower and shoppers to a nearby market complex. "I am surprised seeing buses stopping on middle of the busy road here while its designated places is being used as parking," said Sarbeshwar Nath, a commuter who was waiting at Rupali Square to catch a bus towards Vanivihar on Saturday.
Another such bay near Regional Institute of Education has become bikers' paradise: One may often see youngsters engaged in talks, sitting on their parked two-wheelers. The government had announced to build 55 such bays here, including the 21 that are ready. "Others will be built in phases," a senior government officer said.
While PWD is constructing the bays, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is making the bus shelters. "BMC has recently written to the PWD to handover the ready bays so that the bus shelters, signposts of bus-stops and bus timings and route charts are fixed at the earliest," said mayor Anant Narayan Jena.
Bus employees said they should be allowed to use even a single bay that is ready instead of waiting for such official formalities. "The traffic police had recently detained two of our drivers for stopping on the roads. But they are helpless. Government should allow use of bus stops that is ready," said Ganesh Chandra Sahoo, working president of Citybus Karmachari Sangha, a union of the bus employees. Sahoo said the operator, however, has instructed the staff to stop wherever they notice a prospective passenger or whenever someone wants to get down.
Currently, 105 JNNURM buses are plying in Bhubaneswar, Khurda and Puri. This includes around 80 between different locations in the city, five between Bhubaneswar and Puri, 10 between Bhubaneswar and Puri and 10 between Bhubaneswar and Khurda. Officials sources said DTS will start plying another fleet of 15 buses, including nine inside Puri and six connecting Puri with Konark from September 1. "All these buses in the fleet are 30-seaters. They have already arrived. We will start plying soon," the DTS top boss said.
Problems in infrastructure like origin and departure (OD) terminals, bus bays, signage boards and maintenance terminals continue to dog the movement of buses. The upcoming terminus at Pokhariput is likely to be ready by this month-end, government sources said. The government is planning to inaugurate it on August 31, the local self-government day. A similar inaugural plan was made for August 31, 2011, but Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) failed to complete the work. The buses are currently terminating at Master Canteen depot, Balakati, Patia, Dumduma and CDA Cuttack.