Finally, Shimla City gets new low-floor, CCTV fitted buses for the first time
SHIMLA- A couple of days ago, new low-floor urban buses started operating on new ISBT to old ISBT Shimla route. The buses are centre of amazement for all routine passengers as well as for local onlookers. These buses are typical symbol of transport in over-crowded Indian cities, and their arrival in Shimla verify the fact that its heading towards the same fate as other, commercially relevant and urban cities do.
The 2011 census tells us that approximately 350 million people lived in cities, and with the urbanization going on around here in India, more than 300 million new residents will join them in next two decades, may be less.
Anyway, first thing that anyone is likely to notice is that these buses are too long for twisting and hilly roads of Shimla city. Still, if Shimla can handle Haryana Roadways buses, then these buses will do fine too. Second thing will be the apparent distress among local bus operators. The new buses will charge a fixed fair of Rs. 5 as compared to Rs. 8 charged by HRTC and private bus operators. Also, the new bus can carry double the passengers a local, private or Govt. mini bus does.
While we were taking a look inside the bus, a couple of passengers who sat on new, more comfortable seats with an unfamiliar manner, were heard discussing how man rows of standing passengers it can accommodate. They agreed that it’s a better and bigger platform for over-crowding.
At old Shimla ISBT, a guy came towards the HW member clicking the photographs and asked if he is a media person. In a very annoyed sound, he complained that these buses are too long and useless for Shimla, and that the buses are not made for this route (New ISBT to Old ISBT). He went on cursing the bus like a scared freak. Well, actually, he was a private bus conductor, reacting to a huge cut on crowd it’ll cause him.
An HW member clicked some photographs of the Tata Marco Polo built bus at old ISBT in Shimla. The buses feature new front fascia and their design claims more safety, comfort and convenience for passengers along with enhancement in operating efficiency for State Transport Authority.
All buses have three CCTV cameras. Two of them face two entrances from inside and one outside on the rear of the bus. The bus is spacious with wider passage-ways, wider window panes, and lower entry/exit doors.
The doors are wider, thus, more convenient to let passengers in and out. There are no steps on the doors as the floor is low, thus, better for elderly, disabled or kids to board on easily.
The seats are bucket-type and comfortable. The seats are arranged in a way that put them in pairs facing each other. The suspensions are softer and the bus run on tubeless tyres.
The driver or conductor can make announcement through included mic and speaker set up.
It has automatic sliding doors, and the control of doors is with the driver and not with the conductor as it used to be. The bus has four electronic screens on front and rear and two of them inside it to display the stoppage to passengers.
A display besides driver’s seat that can display the locations of bus stops using GPS and GPRS.
As claimed by the makers and the Govt., the bus is in agreement with the guidelines defined by (National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP).
Let’s take a look what the maker claims about its product. According to the Tata Motors:
“These buses also enhance the operational efficiency for STU’s (State Transport Units), as these are compatible to hook-up with a central control room server, through which an operator monitors the performance of each bus in terms of number of trips, off-road position, adherence to pre-scheduled maintenance by monitoring real-time health of the bus, through OBD (on-board diagnostics). Through this feature operators can also moderate and redesign the frequency of buses on every route.”
We aren’t sure how much of that apply to the buses provided in Himachal.
It’s not possible that some facility is given to the public without a scheme, named after some dynastic, preferably dead political leader. The Gandhi name-line have predated for long under cover of these subtle psychological suggestions. The one we are talking about here is marked as Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) – a massive city modernizations scheme launched under Minister of Urban Development in 2005 to be implemented upto March 2012. Govt. claimed an investment of over $20 billion for the whole plan. JnNURM was launched to improve the lifestyle and civic sense level of the urban population, to create convenient, safe, economically productive, efficient, and responsive cities.
It was launched by UPA Govt., therefore, Modi Govt. had considered removing the Nehru name from it and re-launch it like it happened in some other cases.
There are lost of dimension of this scheme like upgrading infrastructural services in the context of integrated development, develop efficient and more self-sufficient capabilities in cities, planned development of selected cities, take up urban renewal program, scale up delivery of civic amenities with universal access to urban poor.
Transportation in cities is one of the many basic amenities along with modern infrastructural requirements.
A modern city, especially Indian, means traffic on already overcrowded roads, noise pollution, congestions, more fossil fuel consumption, increased air pollution, and traffic crash deaths. Annually, in Indian cities, air pollution cause over 620,000 premature deaths and 135,000 deaths due to traffic crashes.
The biggest trouble urbanization is causing is what we witnessed in Tara Devi forest tree massacre and in that in home district of HP forest minister, Thakur Singh Bharmauri – inevitable deforestation.
That’s because our Governments have been dumb mites, busy in eating out roots of India’s chances of true development. Every year, hundreds of millions are spent on sending MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats, and every opportunistic high rank Govt. officials on foreign tours, which are authorized under the label of educational, training, or tours meant to observe and learn from developed nations, from the governance of their cities. Still, they never paid attention to the fact that public transport needs to be encouraged over personal vehicles. Public transport meant to be more convenient, affordable, and easily accessible for, at least, daily commuters.
That’s why Metro transits are successful in places like Delhi. Not just better, specious buses, but the infrastructure must be attended for smoother public transportation.
The traffic cause delay for the public buses too, so, the time has come to think of separate, dedicated lanes for public transportation only. The public transport will be away from usual traffic and can follow strict discipline in governance. It’s difficult to imagine that for hills, but we will need it, sooner or later. Bus Rapid Transit is the next option to handle ever growing urban crowd.
We have already begun to knock at the doors of Shimla Traffic Police and HP Pollution Control board, telling them about the negligence towards polluting buses and vehicles, and we will also need an efficient Municipal Corporation to deal with what lies ahead.
The present officials and chair-holders at MC are performing very poor, we must say. It failed even to attend frequent sewage-leakage at various parts of the city, and the waste management is running on Jugaad tricks. Similarly, HPPWD and National Highway Authorities have failed in ensuring roadside safety.
There is one thing more. The number of monkeys, stray dogs, and abandoned cattle is increasing because of the littering habits of the public and equally poor management by the SMC. The markets and places of commercial activity see more waste food/food waste around it, hence, more monkeys and stray dogs.
Even otherwise, where should we expect the animals to go when we are destroying their habitat and food sources to built luxury villas and resorts? Man and animal conflict will end up with caging or killing of animals, because no one will chose them over human kind. There is a lot of other mess that comes with modernization and urbanization. So, brace for it. Good luck with the urbanization.