SAMBALPUR: Four months after 12 new city buses were flagged off in Sambalpur, only two are operating in the city now. The remaining 10 buses are lying unused. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had flagged off the new buses on September 22 last year to strengthen public transport in Sambalpur as well as the neighbouring Bargarh, Sonepur, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts.
The 12 city buses were to ply on new routes comprising Sambalpur-Kuchinda, Sambalpur-Sonepur, Sambalpur-Barpali (Bargarh), Sambalpur- Sundargarh, Sambalpur-Brajrajnagar (Jharsuguda) and Sambalpur-Belpahar (Jharsuguda).
However, only two buses are plying on Sambalpur-Kuchinda route while the remaining 10 are lying idle.
The city bus service was launched in Sambalpur on January 29, 2014 and made operational on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. A private operator, Paschim Odisha Paribahan Company (POPCO) has partnered with Western Odisha Urban Transport Services Limited (WOUTSL) to run and manage the city bus service in Sambalpur.
Currently, 34 buses are plying in 13 different routes. The buses are providing services to the peripheral areas of Sambalpur city besides neighbouring Bargarh and Jharsuguda towns.The plying of city buses on the new routes will be helpful for residents of five towns of Sonepur, Barpali, Sundargarh, Brajrajnagar and Belpahar. The residents will find better connectivity with Sambalpur after the buses run on the new routes. The city bus service has encouraged use of public transport with more people preferring to travel in the new buses. More than 7,000 commuters use the city buses on a daily basis.
Commissioner of Sambalpur Municipal Corporation Bimalendu Ray, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of WOUTSL, said they have already applied for route permits for plying of buses on the new routes. However, while the authorities have received permit for Sambalpur-Kuchinda route, they are waiting for permits for other routes following which the rest of the buses will be deployed, Ray added.