M3 Features

Double-decker buses to make a comeback in Kolkata

December 15, 2013

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 dreams.

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 double-deckers.

A trip down the lane of nostalgia

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 well

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 double-decker buses.

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.

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Comments (3)
Anish Reply
December 16, 2013
I have gazed when these buses passed by me with a hint of pride. Those were my childhood days. I could (better to say 'we' could - me being dependent on my parents) never board one, as the routes never matched our destination. Then they vanished. leaving my desire insatiable. Hope rises again... this time I will travel with the canopy folded, enjoying the city's view on a lazy winter afternoon with someone special beside me (though I am still waiting for that 'someone'; if that 'someone' keeps me waiting, I will go by myself) ;P
Sahana Reply
December 15, 2013
It's a wonderful experience to get on to the upper deck and see the views. There can also be AC double-decker buses, for tourists as well as for daily passengers.
Subhash Singh Reply
December 15, 2013
Double-decker buses are a part of the heritage of the city. They add a flavour to the city, unparalleled in India.
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