Inter-state bus service in Himachal likely to resume next week
The state had started intra-state transport in a phased manner in August end.Updated: Oct 08, 2020, 21:47 IST
The inter-state bus service from Himachal Pradesh is likely to resume next week, after their suspension over six months back, subject to standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the transport department.
The state had started intra-state transport in a phased manner in August end.
Himachal Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) had been bearing heavy losses after it suspended its bus services in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We are fully geared up to resume inter-state bus services and the corporation is waiting for the government’s nod. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all routes were suspended and this has resulted in heavy losses completely ruining the transport business in the region,” said transport minister Bikram Singh Thakur.
HRTC will ply buses on 728 routes across the northern states and Union territories including Jammu, Ladakh, Kashmir, Chandigarh, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan.
The corporation earns nearly Rs 54 lakh per day and its losses have crossed Rs 1300 crores. Last year alone, it bore a loss of Rs 154 crore. HRTC, which has a fleet of 3,719 buses, has already prepared the SOPs for plying inter-state buses.
Overcrowding in buses will not be allowed, drivers and conductors will be provided masks and sanitisers, while buses would be sanitised before starting the journey, said Thakur.
Tourism industry stakeholders are demanding the government to start the inter-state bus services ahead of the festive season Tourism industry that has borne heavy losses is hoping for good business in the festive season. The stakeholders have urged the government to start rail services on the heritage Shimla-Kalka track.
The stakeholders are apprehensive of the railways’ decision to terminate the Howra-Kalka train at Chandigarh instead of Kalka. “The termination of Howra-Kalka train at Chandigarh will hit the Shimla tourism circuit in particular and of the state in general because Shimla is a gateway for tourists coming to Himachal, said MK Seth, president of Himachal Tourism Stakeholders Association.
The majority of tourists set on their journey of Himachal from Shimla. Kalka-Howra train is a popular train and contributes a large number of tourist inflow from West Bengal. He said that this is the most convenient train for tourists coming from Bengal because of its direct connectivity up to Shimla by the World Heritage Kalka-Shimla train. During the Durga Puja holidays maximum tourists from West Bengal travel by this train to Shimla.
He said that Howra-Kalka mail is running since the Shimla-Kalka rail line came into existence in 1903.
Stakeholders have also expressed anguish over the railways’ decision to terminate the Bandra-Kalka train service at Chandigarh from next week. The tourists from West Bengal and Maharashtra contribute a large Inflow of tourists to Himachal. Suspension of train services will not only hit the hoteliers but also the local taxi operators and travel agents.