BERHAMPUR: Resuming their services after more than two months, bus operators of Ganjam district were in for a rude shock on Thursday as only a handful of passengers turned up.
After much deliberation with the State Government, operators had agreed to re-introduce bus services from Thursday.
But the bus owners were greeted with an absolute lack of passengers. Sources said hardly 10 passengers arrived at the bus stand on the first day.
As announced, some private buses reached the city bus stand at 6 am to carry passengers to Bhubaneswar. The vehicles waited there for more than two hours but not a single passenger turned up.
Annoyed, the operators parked their buses at the stand and left for their homes after the departure time ended.
At around 10 am, another Bhubaneswar-bound private bus (Khambeswari) reached the bus stand and waited for more than one hour.
During this period, only two passengers purchased tickets. After some time, a few more passengers arrived and the near-empty bus left for Bhubaneswar.
General secretary of Ganjam district bus operators’ union Babu Patnaik said “We were expecting a fall in number of passengers due to the coronavirus threat but had never hoped for such a poor response from passengers.”
The bus which left for Bhubaneswar had only 10 passengers in it. The operator will not be able to recover the money spent on fuel and is bound to incur losses.
“Since hotels and lodges are closed, we were reluctant to resume bus services initially. However, we agreed in interest of the public. But in view of the current situation, it may not be possible for us continue plying the buses,” Patnaik said and added that the poor passenger response has been discussed with other bus operator unions to decide the future course of action.
Sources said neither the operators nor transport officials are sure about operation of buses from Friday.
On the other hand, the district transport wing has requisitioned 65 Government buses, 204 private and 40 city buses to ferry migrant workers from the railway station to their native places.
Regional transport officer (RTO) Sanjay Biswal said, “Apart from dropping the returnees at temporary medical centres, the buses are also being used to carry persons, who complete their quarantine period, to their native places.”