Charanjit Singh Teja
Amritsar, September 29
It has now been around three months that the Metro bus service being run under Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) was discontinued due to the non-availability of drivers and staff. But the government is still bearing the burden of expenses including security, ticketing and technical support staff whereas the service remains suspended.
The Metro buses have been off road since July 4. One of the private firms, Swarna Satnam Transport Services, which used to operate and repair buses and take care of the terminal at the Verka bypass, stopped functioning. The government had imposed a penalty of around Rs 2 crore on the private firm for allegedly taking more fuel than the actual consumption. Instead of paying the penalty, the company ended its contract.
Over 37,000 passengers used to avail the bus service every day. The BRTS authorities had issued smart cards to more than 8,000 daily passengers. Apart from this, a large number of students of various educational institutions used to travel on these buses every day. Some local activists claimed that thousands of residents are facing inconvenience after the suspension of the BRTS service. The local activists have written to the Chief Minister and other departments concerned of the government but to no avail. Ironically, no local MLA has taken up the issue with the government even as thousands of commuters are suffering daily.
“The MC had written to the government for approval to hire a new firm for operating the service. There has been no development in this regard. The ticket collectors, security guards, call centre workers and technicians are coming to office regularly. The Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Company of the Local Bodies Department is paying the expenses. The BRTS has collected no revenue by selling tickets for the last three months, but expenses cannot be avoided. Even the buses, parked at the Vallah-Verka bypass, would develop technical snags,” said a BRTS contractor.
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