A year back, a forum of nationalist citizens urged the Assam government to ensure a quality city bus service in Guwahati till the night hours, but it has hardly made changes to the service, which prompted the Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) to reissue the same concerns.

The forum in a media statement issued in January 2023 questioned the State government in general and the transport department in particular, why they cannot ensure a sincere city service in the prehistoric city after dusk even after the drastic improvement of law & order situation in the last few years. Why can’t Guwahatians enjoy a city bus ride on various routes till the evening hours? How long do they have to wait for a consistent bus service till midnight? If the private owners are not ready to operate during night hours, why not the transport department run their own buses? Those were some pertinent questions raised by the patriotic forum, which remain unaddressed today.

Lately, the PPFA expressed utter dismay once again over the inconsistent city bus service in the virtual capital of northeast India and urged the concerned authorities to ensure a reliable transportation service covering all important city routes till 11 pm.

Needless to say Guwahati today supports over 15 lakh permanent residents along with a sizable number of city dwellers, who are still deprived of any local & metro train service. Most of them depend on city bus service for daily movement for various engagements & emergencies and definitely, they expect reliable city bus rides.

The State government in Dispur bought 100  new compressed natural gas-run buses last year and added another 100 electric vehicles recently to the city service. So the PPFA rightly questions why the department cannot guarantee a timely service after dusk on all city routes. It must not show interest only in buying the vehicles, but also in running those on the roads for the benefit of common citizens as they
cannot afford private vehicles. For any reason, new buses should not be purchased to showcase (the failure of concerned authorities !) in ISBT  Guwahati for months, asserted the forum raising a pertinent question, who will pay for the mismanagement?

“As Guwahati has emerged as a major city in the far eastern part of Bharat and hopes to connect many south and southeast Asian nations including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc, it must be active and alive till late-night hours. Moreover, thousands of local young people nowadays work in various commercial establishments including shopping malls, restaurants, hospitals, media houses etc till midnight and they definitely need a dependable service.  Once the decent service is assured, the commuters will plan their evening engagements accordingly,” added the statement. These positive changes should take place as early as possible,” added the PPFA.

The transport department recently added 200  new buses, equipped with facilities of air-conditioning, fire-detection, global positioning systems, etc across Guwahati, but difficulties faced by the elderly citizens as well as women & children in their daily rides have not decreased. Even though the ticketing system has been improved, the authority needs to look into various other important issues like the cleanliness of the vehicles, reducing extra waiting time in prescribed stoppages, encouraging good behavior among bus drivers and conductors (some of whom are fond of using abusive language towards passengers and even the pedestrians), etc.

Understanding the need of evening commuters, the authorities in 2015 decided to launch a night city bus service in some selected routes of Guwahati. Those night buses were scheduled to start moving from 8 pm till midnight hours every day. The passengers were asked to pay fifty percent extra fare, but it was never fully realized and by now the residents have simply forgotten about the initiative.

Nonetheless, the PPFA urged CM Himanta Biswa Sarma (who flagged off both  CNG and electric  buses) to intervene in the matter and have a clear picture of the service putting some individuals at various
specific points after 7 pm for subsequent follow-up actions.

Will it be listened to and will necessary actions be initiated!