Sunday, June 7

Double-decker buses set to return to Kolkata roads

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Double-decker buses — the lumbering behemoths of everyday commute once ubiquitous on Kolkata’s streets, but phased out since the early 90s — are set to return to the city, exactly a century since the first one arrived during British rule, but in a swankier avatar.

Until the certification comes from the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) — merely a formality, according to sources — there are no approved double-decker models, since no Indian automobile manufacturer makes them. Officials at the West Bengal transport department said the final nod is expected by this month, allowing the two buses to hit the road early March.

Kolkata, also, is on the cusp of leading the second wave of double-decker buses in metros across the country. Once CIRT gives its final certification to the two buses designed and developed indigenously, those will be the latest approved model of double-deckers across the country.

“These buses will open a new vista for the reintroduction of double-deckers across the nation, particularly in the form of electric vehicles (EV),” said a transport department official. “As of now, the two buses are diesel-run, but unlike the earlier double-deckers, which were fuel guzzlers, these are BS-IV compliant and fuel-efficient,” he added.

In the late 1980s, the then Left government in Bengal had decided to decommission double-deckers in phases as the fleet guzzled fuel. They also belched black smoke, but that wasn’t much of a concern then. By 2005, the last double-decker went off road. In Mumbai, double-deckers still ply but the number is on the decline. At present, BEST has 48 double-deckers, down from more than 250.

 

Source: Times of India

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