Poor bus service irks commuters on Bemina-Pantha Chowk route

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Srinagar: The pushing and pulling, trampling over feet, hurting each other, squeezing on seats, and hassles of taking hold of one’s baggage – all these issues have become a daily routine for people, especially the lady passengers due to shortage of bus service between Pantha Chowk to JVC Bemina. The shortage of buses on the JVC Bemina-Pantha Chowk route in the summer capital of the state highway mocks at the government claims of having improved the public transport facility on the bye-pass.

“A Few buses ply on Parimpora-Pantha chowk highway due to which I find it hard to reach Nowgam Railway station on time. I usually miss the train to Banihal,” said a government official posted at Banihal.    

Pertinently many important Government offices, including Nowgam railway Station, State Board of School Education (JKBOSE), Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), Govt Polytechnic Women’s College, SKIMS Medical College hospital, Town planning Organization and Hajj house fall on this route.

“It took us more than 2 hours to travel from Pantha Chowk to Bemina in this scorching heat,” said Bashir Ahmad from Pampore.   

The employees working in different departments said that they have to change at-least two buses and even walk some distance to reach their destinations. “I have to walk for more than 2 kilometers on foot between Tengpora and Bemina to reach the office as the buses remain over crowded,” said an employee of Srinagar Development Authority Office at Bemina.

While those who find it odd to be treated like cattle often get into scuffle with the drivers.

“This is a routine affair for us. Exchanging heated words with the bus drivers has become a part of our lives,” said Javed Ahmad Shah a passenger.

The people who cannot afford cars and other private transport say that is it their helplessness owing to which they have to bear with everyday hassle.

“The worst affected are the working class and students who during peak hours in the morning and afternoon have to wait for long time at the bus stops in the scorching heat,” said a women working in State Board of School Education.

Working women and students who travel on this route everyday alleged that some miscreants try to harass women. 

As per the commuters, the buses are overloaded to the extent that passengers cannot even breathe properly and if overloading was not enough, the buses move at “snail’s pace”.

The commuters alleged that the bus service on the route goes off by around 5:00 PM and they face acute hardships in reaching their destinations.

As for the bus operators, they have their own take on the issue. “The route isn’t profitable for short distance travel so we avoid plying on it. The bus runs empty during the day time because of low passengers,” said a bus driver Bashir Ahmad.

The commuters said Bemina has become the worst route in Srinagar.

 “There is a nexus between the passenger vehicle operators. Since most of them are from this area only, they are in league with each other giving lot of trouble to the passengers.”

For years, the commuters travelling on this highway stretch had been demanding start of the sumo service on this busy track but instead of overcoming the problem it is getting worse with each passing day.

The poor service contradicts the government plans of promoting buses on the outer roads of the City.

“At present there are only 18 minibuses of Western Motor Transport Company plying on the JVC Bemina-Pantha chowk Byepass,” said an official from the RTO, Srinagar.

But the Regional Transport Officer (RTO), Mehmood Shah had his own take on the issue. Around 7000 passenger mini buses have diverted to tourists.

As a result, “There is a shortage of passenger buses not only on the JVC Bemina-Pantha chowk route, but also in the entire City,” he said, adding, “We will make sure that necessary action is taken.”

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