The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The new face of public transport

Since I can remember Kolkata has never been known as a city with decent buses. It has two kinds of buses, govt. and private, which is unlike any of the top four metros. Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have only govt. buses plying and they are good to board indeed. Private buses in Kolkata are regular bus and mini bus. Mini bus looks decent. But the regular ones look just like a tin box and they have uncomforable sitting design for ages. And the crowd in the buses in rush hours are comparable to Kolkata's and Mumbai's local trains in the same time. Govt. buses, thanks to a transport minister who just doesn't show the interest to do his job sincerely, are even worse- many of them look like discarded tin boxes that make intolerable noise on board with out of order parts.

About one year back the city witnessed a refreshing change. a public-private partnership happened between West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation and a private transport co. and two types of executive buses started plying- a luxury bus called Whiteliner and a mini bus called Starbus. Standing is not allowed in any of them and hence the fare is much higher than standard. Whiteliners are AC or non-AC and Starbuses are non-AC. An increasing group of executives and small businessmen who prefer to pay a premium to reach their destinations faster and comfortably are lapping them up. Whiteliners are now plying at two routes- Airport-Santragachhi and Airport-Tollygunge and an expansion is in the offing.

It's apparently the CM, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya who has made this possible fighting with the stubborn transport minister. Kolkata is cheering to the move. At least we can show friends and colleagues from outside that we have high-quality transport besides the dreaded ones.