Ghy has a mere 34 bus shelters; GMC surveying city to add more
Waiting for a bus at a Guwahati bus stoppage is usually an arduous task. While many of us take shelter only to escape the scorching heat of the sun or the drizzles and downpours bus shelters are used for various purposes besides waiting for buses to arrive. Sidestepping is a rather common sight when it comes to a commuter and his bus shelter. The big question today is: are bus shelters an unwanted luxury for the people of Guwahati of is it the lack of appropriate number of bus shelters that plays a vital role in Guwahatians not getting used to the habit of using bus shelters and rather flagging down a bus to board it?
As per figures acquired from the transport department, there are a mere 34 bus shelters existing in Guwahati which certainly falls far short of the requirement of the city’s commuters. Moreover, there are several major routes where bus shelters never existed. One such route is Rehabari-Lokhra where there are neither any designated bus stoppages nor any bus shelters. Defined as Route No 9 and 10, the bus route covers the stoppages from Kachari to ISBT and buses travel via Paltanbazar, Nepali Mandir, Rehabari, Sarabbhati, Fatasil Ambari, Lal Ganesh, etc. While Route No 10 is restricted to Lokhra Chariali, Route No 9 extends up to ISBT via Gorchuk.
Guwahati has been divided into 16 bus routes and apart from the three major routes viz. Mahapurush Srimanta Sankerdev Path (GS Road), GNB Road and RG Baruah Road, most routes of the city remain deprived of bus shelters. The AK Azad Road that goes on to be termed as Lokhra Road is one such insufferable route. A journey by a city bus through the route explains it all as it consumes around 90 minutes to cover the distance of 9.4 kilometres. The lack of bus shelters in the route is a major reason that a commuter has to go through an excruciating journey in order to reach his or her destination. The sights at the Nepali Mandir bus stop say it all where passengers, buses and other vehicles clog the junction causing massive snarls. Meanwhile, most commuters opt for the share-taxies (Tata Magic) which help them reach their destination in lesser time.
“I have to travel everyday to bring my children from school and most of the time I opt for the shared taxis and there is no fixed time that buses reach their stoppages. Moreover, they take a considerable time to travel from one stoppage to another. The buses do not move from Nepali Mandir until they are full with passengers and they stop every 100 metres to pick up or drop passengers,” said Nirmali Sarkar, a regular commuter of Lokhra Road and a resident of Colony Bazaar. It was also mentioned that although the shared taxies also do the same they consume lesser time and are the preferred mode of transportation over city buses.
A senior citizen of the area mentioned that the culture of flagging down a bus still persists as there is no designated stoppage in the route. “One can board a bus at any desired place; you only have to wave at the buses or the shared taxies. There is ample amount of space on the entire stretch and it can also be considered as one of the broader roads of the city. My office used to be at RG Baruah Road and the traffic congestion on the road still exists but the story is different on Lokhra Road. We hardly face traffic jams and proper management and maintenance can provide productive results,” the senior citizen mentioned.
He also added that if freed from encroachments and street vendors the sides of the roads can easily house bus shelters. People also expressed concern over the lack of a bus shelter at the Nepali Mandir bus stoppage which has been a long pending problem.
A possible solution
Meanwhile, in order to address the problem, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) is conducting a survey on the bus stoppages of the city. The survey is being conducted jointly along with the traffic department in order to identify the bus stoppages and the number of possible bus shelters of Guwahati. While the survey is still in process it was mentioned that following the survey several policies will be taken in order to eradicate such problems.
“We are currently incorporating a uniform system of bus shelters and we are jointly working with the traffic department. We are working for the bus shelters to be numbered and will eradicate the hazardous situation. At many points the bus shelters are just 200 metres apart whereas in several locations the bus shelters have vast distance between them. Meanwhile, the survey has been concluded and we will discuss several policies along with setting up bus shelters where they do not exist. Our prime focus is on putting a uniform structure by numbering the bus shelters and displaying the route numbers,” said Monalisa Goswami, Commissioner, GMC. It was also informed that several bus shelters have also been identified that require to be refurbished.
Apart from the AK Azad Road and Lokhra Road, there are several other routes that lack bus shelters. NH 37, Zoo-Narengi Road, part of Mahapurush Damodardev Path (AT Road) and several others have never had bus shelters. Meanwhile, the survey might provide a ray of hope to develop Guwahati into a commuter-friendly city. The lack of land availability will be a major problem on some routes though.
• In a recent move the 32 city bus routes of the city were reduced to 16 along with alterations of the bus route numbers
• As per figures acquired from the transport department there are 34 bus shelters existing in Guwahati
• Against these mere 34 bus shelters there are several hundred bus stoppages in the city
• In order to address the problem the GMC is conducting a survey on identifying the bus stoppages and bus shelters of the city
• Following the survey, policies will be taken in order to eradicate the sad state of affairs and put a uniform system in place
• Guwahati is the first city in the northeast where low-floored buses were introduced