Miss those delightful rides in double-decker buses? Scrapped
by the previous government, the city's iconic vehicles may soon be back on the
roads — though only for tourism — to give shape to the chief minister's London
The buses had been phased out from the early-'90s with the
Left government finding them major fuel-guzzlers and thus non-viable. But the
new government has a completely different view on the utility of
A trip down the lane
The transport minister believes the value of double-decker
buses in tourism is "unparalleled". "I am thinking of
double-deckers with canopy. On a good-weather day, the canopy could be folded
so that tourists can get a better glimpse of the city. But the biggest problem
is their availability. Double-decker buses are not readily available. So we
have to place orders," he said.
Adding a touch of London, the Mamata Banerjee government
believes that the phasing out of double-deckers only expedited the sickness of
the state transport utilities (STUs). To quote some figures, a single-decker
carries 72 passengers while a double-decker carries nearly 100. The operating
cost of a single-decker is Rs 45 per km while a double-decker bus costs Rs 70
per kilometer, a transport department officer said.
Boost to tourism as
The British had introduced double-decker buses in Kolkata —
then Calcutta — in 1926. The first double-decker bus plied between Shyambazar
and Kalighat. And, for Kolkatans, there is tremendous nostalgia associated with
Transport department insiders said talks were on with bus
manufacturers for procuring a fleet of new double-decker buses. They have
thought about remodelling the old ones, but found the buses beyond use.
London has a fleet of double-decker buses for popular
heritage trips. AC double-decker buses are ideal for covering sites like the
Kalighat temple, Victoria Memorial and other tourist spots. During the
late-Eighties, 200 double-decker buses were brought to the city, but were
discarded after some time on grounds of non-viability.