Volvo to Puri. What about city service? [Image source]
In Feb last year, when CSTC introduced Volvo’s super-luxury intercity express to Puri via Bhubaneswar, it marked a watershed beginning for the 1948-established company. It was hailed by many people because it was thought that now the conditions of buses would improve.
A year down the line, while CSTC has added more Volvo buses on long routes, such as the one to Ranchi, and also induced new buses with vastly improved comfort for its city fleet, private buses have remained exactly same, uncomfortable and shabby-looking.
Kolkata’s private buses are a classic example of how small private ownership, when they form a cartel, can go horribly wrong. But that’s another story.
Coming to CSTC, it’s planning big. Riding on unprecedented demand for prime land in the city, which it has in plenty in the form of sprawling yet ugly depots, CSTC now plans to sell or lease out an AJC Bose Road plot to increase its fleet.
It expects something around Rs.50 crore for the plot, which it can then use to buy BS-III buses each of which costs Rs.17 lakhs. Funds that remain after buying the buses will be used to improve the working conditions at the depots.
All that is good news. It’s further sweet for CSTC because it has many more prime properties in the heart of the city that can be later bartered for more improvement.
The important however question is: How will all these translate to passengers’ comfort? Riding the new buses is a pleasure, no doubt. But when we see the buses stopping anywhere on the road forcing people to alight from or board them risking lives, serious doubts arise if at all their service will improve.
The conductors and drivers feel it denigrating to wear uniforms. They wear chappals, appear uncouth, and are not known to have any idea how to serve people. The buses, once they’re about a month old, give the impression that they are not cared for at all at the depots.
In my opinion, CSTC personnel need training on serving people the right way. It’s not just ferrying passengers. It’s much more than that.
One hopes now that it has money in hand, it’ll try best to become a truly efficient transport company like by all. Who knows, private buses too may follow suit, if only they do out of shame!