Altered route nos leads to confusion among commuters
Watch out before you hop on to a bus and listen closely to the conductor shouting out loud as there is a chance that you might be boarding the wrong city bus. Following the crackdown by transport authorities effective from the later part of November 2016 on 15-year-old buses and 10-year-old trekkers, functioning as share taxis, there has been a change in routes for the buses plying within the city. The special drive was launched after the deadline was set by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), Kamrup (Metro), for owners to replace their old vehicles with new ones. Soon after the deadline, teams of transport officials and police were seen checking papers of city buses and trekkers to enforce the ban at different places in the city such as Paltan Bazar, Ganeshguri and so on. While the trekker owners were asked to replace their vehicles with Tata Magic and Maxima vehicles the old buses were asked to be replaced by new ones. Out of 1,150 trekkers 600 have been moved out following the High Court order whereas 100 old city buses were replaced.
Meanwhile, the initiative has led to certain confusing scenarios for the commuters who are dependent on buses for commuting within the city and are habituated to the old route numbers. Many continue to remain confused and unsure about which bus to board as the route numbers displayed on the buses convey a different destination than previously assigned. It is only after the conductor shouts out the stoppages of the bus (which is the conventional way of soliciting passengers in Guwahati) that the fog is cleared. As annoying and bothersome as the ‘conventional process’ might be, one had never thought that the process would come in handy.
“The buses displaying Route No. 13 used to ply to Lokhra via Lal Ganesh but now they travel to Khanapara. On one occasion I boarded Bus No. 13 and found that it was going towards GS Road. I stopped the bus and had to walk all the way to Nepali Mandir from Ulubari,” said Piyush Das, a commuter who boarded the bus from Kachari. Several others echoed similar views as several other routes such Route No. 2, which plied from Kahilipara, now travels from Basishta Temple to Adabari via Paltan Bazar; the Kahilipara route has been changed to Route No. 3 whereas the Hatigaon route that was Route No. 3 earlier has been changed to Route No. 4.
On 25th July 2016 the Regional Transport Authority issued a notification according to which the number of routes has been cut down to 16 from 32. Along with the notification the initiative has resulted in confining all city buses to the new 16 routes. As per the notification several routes were changed due to congested road conditions and other modes of public transportation already operating on the routes.
“There are several routes such as the Hengrabari Road (Route No. 19) which have been removed from the map because they face traffic congestion due to plying of buses. Meanwhile, there are already other public transport systems plying on such routes that have led to the decision. Thus, the buses plying on the previous routes have been shifted to the new 16 routes in and around the city. Moreover, the existing route numbers have also been changed, e.g., the Khanapara to Kachari route has been changed to 13 from 21,” said Bipul Ch. Kalita, general secretary, Guwahati Metro Transport Association.
In 2016 it was made mandatory by the RTA for the buses to display the route numbers and punitive action was taken against those who were found violating the norm. Meanwhile, buses plying on the renumbered routes that display the number of a different route have been causing serious confusion among the commuters. On this Kalita informed that the bus owners and the drivers have been informed to change the route number and the process will be completed shortly.
“Around 100 old city buses have been removed after the order was notified and during the one month period all the buses have been replaced. The bus owners and drivers have been informed to change the route number and the process will be completed by February as some of the buses are yet to get their fitness certificate. It is the old buses that are required to change the route numbers; the new ones have already been plying with the updated route numbers. However, we can only inform them and it is up to the RTA to mandate the change of route numbers. Meanwhile, GPS system is installed when the fitness of the vehicle is done according to the notification in the order,”Kalita said.
It came to light that the unchanged route numbers has also been causing confusion among the traffic cops. “Although the routes have been changed there is lack of co-ordination between the RTA and the traffic department.Many of the traffic officials are unaware of the changes and impose fines on the bus drivers mistaking them of violating the route guidelines. The buses plying on route number 13 has been allotted to ply to 9th mile but due to unavailability of bus stoppages the buses turn around in Khanapara where the cops impose fines on them,” Kalita added.
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