Seven years and several trial runs later, the long-pending demand of Amritsar residents for a better and regulated public transport finally saw the light of day on Tuesday when Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal launched the city bus service here.
Addressing the gathering, Badal said the buses would go a long way in providing the public with a suitable transport, besides dealing with growing traffic congestion on the city roads. He said Amritsar would be transformed into a beautiful city in the next two years with state-of-the-art infrastructure.
The buses will ply on three routes from Wednesday onwards. The Amritsar City Transport Service Limited will supervise the running of the project.
“About Rs. 2,000 crore would be invested in two years to transform the city. The foundation stone of the Rs. 600 crore project of metro rapid bus service will be laid by next month. The tenders for this have been floated.”
“Within one-and-a-half year, metro buses will run in the city,” he said.
Mooted in 2007 on the lines of the service running in Indore, the city bus service, currently costing Rs. 48 crore, has a fleet of 41 buses that will run on three different routes in the first phase.
To ferry commuters across the city, the project will have a total of 150 buses, which would be added later, said MC officials.
The fleet includes AC low-floor buses, semi-low floor buses, non-AC and standard AC and non-AC buses. The initial cost of the project was Rs. 33 crore, which had escalated due to the delay in its implementation.
Despite having a few trial runs, the project could not hit the roads earlier. The service would run on the net credit cost (NCC) mode and a Karnataka-based company would look after its operations.
After repeatedly missing deadlines, there was also delay in the arrival of the buses and later in finalising the date for its launch, after MC officials cited several reasons, including formalities such as obtaining insurance papers, registration certificates (RCs) and driver’s licences.
“In terms of infrastructure and development, a lot more is on the anvil for the city. It will materialised in the due course of time,” said municipal commissioner dPS Kharbanda.
First route: From Daburji to India Gate via bus stand, Hussianpura Chowk, Sant Singh Sukha Singh Chowk, Rattan Singh Chowk, district courts, Circuit House, railway station, Putlighat, Khalsa College Chowk, Chheharta Chowk
Second route: From Doburji to Meera Kot via Sultanwind Chowk, Dharm Singh Market, railway station, Sadar Thana, Saroop Rani Government College for Women, Hartej Nursing Home to Meera Kot
Third route: From IOC petrol pump in Verka to Mandir Baba Mulla Ji, Verka Bypass, Bijli Ghar Verka, Vijay Nagar, Dental College Chowk, bus stand, Ram Bagh, Durgiana Mandir, Khazana Gate and Chattiwind