The much awaited city bus service, slated to begin June, may not address commuting woes of residents in Noida’s newly developed areas.
The 13 routes on which the bus service is planned in the first phase find no mention of newly developed areas such as sectors 122, 121, 70, 120, 119, 76, 77, 78 and 79, among others.
Currently, there is no public transport facility for residents in these areas that have numerous apartment complexes. As a result, residents either have to depend on private vehicles or expensive taxi services.
“Travelling from Sector 120 to nearby Noida City Centre Metro station, or to Greater Noida office, is a nightmare for me if my husband is not around to drive me. Earlier, we used to take a taxi from Ola or Uber because shared autos, which are relatively cheaper, do not come to our area. But, local autorickshaw drivers, who usually overcharge, thrashed these taxi drivers and so they stopped coming to our area,” said Bhairavi Singh, a teacher and resident of Sector 120.
Residents alleged that in sectors 72, 77, 120, 122 and 119 only local autorickshaws are available. These drivers do not ply by the meter and often overcharge. The situation is no different in other newly developed areas, residents said.
“When a friend or relative comes by Metro from Delhi, I have to go to pick them from the station because autorickshaw drivers charge around `200 to ` 250 for a 5-km ride. If shared autos or taxi drivers ply to this area, local auto drivers start fighting with them as it affects their business,” said Atul Thakur of Sector 120.
Residents’ welfare associations have written to the Noida authority demanding last-mile connectivity but to no avail.
“We met top officials of the Noida authority several times over this issue in the last one year. But they only made promises. Around 2,000 senior citizens who live in sectors 120, 119 and 122 are worst affected as they cannot drive and are dependent on their family members or at the mercy of autorickshaw drivers who overcharge,” said Nitin Sharma of Sector 122.
Nearly 1.5 lakh MNC, BPO and other employees, who depend on public transport, have a tough time reaching their offices every day.
In Noida and Greater Noida, there are 9, 000 autorickshaws (three-seater), 500 shared tempos (eight-seater), 5,000 cycle rickshaws, besides 276 state roadways buses, 300 Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and 1,600 private buses.
But the twin cities have a population of more than 10 lakh and DTC and state buses together cater to only 90,000 passengers a day. Two-wheelers and cars account for 90% of the vehicular density on roads.
“In 2015, then additional chief executive officer (ACEO) of Noida authority Vinod Kumar Panwar promised to address last-mile connectivity issues but nothing materialised. My daughter has to spend `400 a day on autos to travel from Sector 72 to her college in Sector 126. For a distance of 1 or 2 km an auto drivers charge `150-`200,” said Satish Pandey, vice-president of Sector 72 RWA.
As far as Metro connectivity is concerned, Noida has an existing 6 km metro line connecting various Noida areas with Delhi-NCR.
Work on three metro links -- 30-km Noida-Greater Noida, 3.9-km Kalindi Kunj-Botanical Garden and 6.8-km City Centre-Sector 62 -- is in full swing.
“Even after the under-construction metro projects are opened, last-mile connectivity issues will stay,” said A N Dhawan, chief advisor to federation of Noida RWAs (FONRWA).
This is a fact that acknowledged even by the Noida authority, which admitted that the city bus service is not aimed at bridging the last-mile connectivity gap.
“The authority will run city bus service with 30 to 40 new low floor disabled-friendly buses by June-end. This facility will pass through the city’s main roads. It is not meant for last-mile connectivity. To address that issue, e-rickshaws will be provided in each area,” said Sandip Chandra, head of traffic cell at the Noida authority.