Cuttack: The State Transport Authority (STA) has decided to operate 200 special buses to Puri from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar for four days beginning July 4 to ensure a hassle-free commuting of tourists and devotees for the annual car festival.
On normal days, 230 buses connect Puri with Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. At least 30 buses facilitate the transportation of passengers at night. “Anticipating a huge footfall during this year’s Rath Yatra, 200 additional buses will cater to the transportation needs of the pilgrims for four days —Rath Yatra (July 4), the day after (July 5), Bahuda Yatra (July 13) and the day after (July 14),” said a senior STA official after a Rath Yatra preparatory meeting convened at the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) conference hall here Monday.
The official said temporary permits will be issued to the special buses which will display the fare in order to ensure transparency. Even private buses and auto-rickshaws operating from Baramunda, Badambadi, Puri, Pipli and Konark areas will have to put up fare chart on the vehicles during the period, the official added.
Expressing displeasure over allegations of private buses fleecing passengers by charging exorbitant fare and carrying passengers on rooftops, RDC (Central) Anil Kumar Samal, who is also the transport commissioner, assured of stringent actions in case of any such incidents.
At least four motor vehicle inspectors (MVIs) will be deployed at Konark, Satyabadi, Brahmagiri and Pipli police stations during the festival. Three traffic inspectors will be deployed at the temporary bus terminal at Talabania in Puri. This apart, four traffic inspectors will be posted on the national highways to ensure crackdown on erring vehicles, it was resolved at the meeting.
Puri RTO will be assigned to set up an information centre from July 3 to July 13. Persons facing difficulties may make a distress call on the helpline number: 06752-223478.
Temporary bus terminal will be set up at Talabania. Besides, a temporary rest shed will also come up at Talabania. Pilgrims may avail food at an affordable price of Rs 20 at Talabania. This apart, five battery-driven vehicles have also been arranged to ensure smooth transport of differently-abled to and fro Talabania, the STA official said, adding that cranes and ambulances will be stationed on Puri road to deal with any eventuality.
Puri superintendent of police (SP) Umashankar Das, senior transport officials and members of private bus owners’ associations participated in the meeting.