As the state government prepares to revamp the city’s transport system, a red beauty of yesteryear is set to return to Kolkata’s streets. Adding a touch of London, the Mamata regime is all set to bring back the double-decker buses that, at one time, were the signature of the city’s streets, but were phased out by the previous Left Front regime.
“We’re trying to bring back the double-decker buses which were once an intrinsic part of our city. It’ll be a step towards fulfilling the chief minister’s dream of turning Kolkata into London,” state transport minister Madan Mitra said.
The British had introduced doubledecker buses in Kolkata — then Calcutta — in 1926. The first doubledecker bus plied between Shyambazar and Kalighat. In the mid-’90s, however, the Left Front government phased them out, claiming that these vehicles were unsuitable for our city’s roads.
But it’s not just the double-decker buses that the state government is trying to bring back to revive the city’s old charm. “We’re also trying to revive the old bus routes which were once very popular. Over the past two decades, the Left Front government had stopped plying buses on these routes, saying these were loss-making,” Mitra added.
The transport minister said more than 70 bus routes, such as L9, 7, 14, 4, L20 would be revived in the next few months. State transport corporations, such as the CSTC and CTC, have been asked to begin plying buses on at least 10-12 defunct routes immediately. “We’ll be starting with route No. 14, which connects Behala and Esplanade. Thereafter, every week, we’ll be inaugurating at least two old routes,” Mitra said.
New buses will also be added on these routes. The state has already started the process of issuing licences. Over 500 permits have been issued.
“More than 30% of the city’s private bus fleet has stopped plying because of the new government’s policy of not increasing fares despite the rise in fuel prices,” a bus owner said.