One of the city pink buses during evening rush hour. It is during this time the bus has maximum passengers. (Morung Photo)
Morung Express News
Dimapur | September 30
The Dimapur city Pink Bus was posited to enable women to avail the welfare service.
Many women now testify of profiting from the service that was flagged off on September 17. “Transportation expenditure for my family, if invested, could have given me a good SUV by now,” a woman commuter jested. She had been waiting for the pink bus for more than half an hour. “The bus is extremely comfortable and very affordable,” she viewed.
It was rush hour at the Nagaland State Transport station in the evening; college students informed that they normally paid Rs. 15 and caught the bus every morning and evening, before and after class.
Another woman added, “My children don’t need to board in hostels now, I can send them to school in any of the buses from next month.”
However, the initiative undertaken by the Government of Nagaland is still unknown to many, said an official from the State Transport Department to The Morung Express, wishing to remain anonymous. Pink buses have lesser passengers than the Green city buses.
“We continually ferry from NST station to Chümoukedima regardless of the number of passengers; many times almost empty,” a driver of one of the pink buses said. “This is an order from the higher authority.”
The more visible the buses remain, the more passengers it is likely to attract.
The usual timing of the bus is 6:00 am till evening where 10 trips to and from the station to Chümoukedima 1st gate can be endeavored on a single day.
Regular passengers till now have been college students or people in service especially in the morning and evening which is the time when the 32-seater bus is full with passengers.
While the green buses have, on many occasions attained “100% load factor,” meaning the 32 seats are fully packed, the pink buses sometimes ferry empty.
“The green buses are the repaired old ones but the pink buses are brand new and latest from Tata Motors,” the official said.
“The difference of revenue accrued from the green and pink buses is huge,” it was added. Till date, the green bus normally collects more than Rs. 2000 a day (150 passengers) while the highest for the pink bus has been a little over Rs. 1000. Both ferry the same number of times daily on the same route.
“The State Transport department manages to toe all parts of Nagaland with only 36 drivers and their conductors,” another official in the same department disclosed, adding “more buses will provide more services but the bigger problem of workforce for the department will arise.”
The officer shared concerns for the drivers and conductors whose workload also concerns safety of the general public. “By October three more city buses will be on wheels but will not have drivers and conductors,” it was stated.
The pink bus is also losing passengers when a woman and man are traveling together. “We cannot board the Pink bus if we have a male accomplice along,” a woman commuter said.
The department, in view of the concern, earlier suggested higher authorities to reserve one row for female and male in each of the buses. This was, however, not taken up.
Earlier, the department fixed rates at Rs. 5 for distances up to two kilometres. In one occasion, a bus had more than 90 passengers travelling less than 2 kilometres when, an official said, Rs. 5 change became a problem between the conductor and passenger.
“The transport department, although committed to serve the public, especially in areas where private sector is unable to play important roles, also has to achieve its revenue targets which are as high as Rs. 56 lakh a month,” the official stated.
He appealed the masses, especially women, to avail the pink bus service to help balance the revenue to assure its sustenance in the long run.