PANJIM: Tourism Department has ensured that tourists in Goa can ride in amphibious vehicles, hot air balloons and seaplanes, but it has made no arrangements for public bus facilities for tourists on their arrival at the airport or railway station.
Dabolim Airport is located about 30 kms from Panjim and is the only international gateway to the coastal state. Although the airport caters to a large amount of air traffic, the authorities have failed to provide an affordable public bus service from the airport to major towns and tourist spots, which forces tourists to use the costly cab services.
“I come from Lucknow and this is the first time I have come to Goa. When I landed I was shocked to see the high taxi fares displayed outside the airport and the people at the taxi counter told me that there are no public bus services available so I had no option but to pay the high fare. I had my family along so I had to choose the taxi service,” said Nitish Mohanty.
In 2015, Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited (KTC) had launched an air-conditioned shuttle bus service from Calangute to Dabolim airport during the peak tourist season but this was discontinued due to low response and interference of taxi operators.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) President Savio Messias said, “The bus service was introduced after repeated requests from TTAG and strangely stopped after a few days. It was a half-hearted attempt by the authorities who appeared to have succumbed to the pressure from the taxi lobby. The whole world has bus services from the airport but not Goa. When the taxis went on strike some months ago the Kadamba did an excellent job at the airport.”
KTC Chairman Carlos Almeida speaking to Herald said, “There was poor response for the bus services as no passengers opted for the shuttle service from Calangute to Dabolim aiport. If in future the demand rises, KTC will definitely look into the matter and add buses on this route.”
KTC had also planned to upgrade the bus to a Volvo with wider seating capacity but the proposal was scrapped keeping in mind the poor response.
The situation is the same with major railway stations. Margao, a busy junction, which caters to lakhs of travellers has no public bus facilities available and low income people are badly hit as they have to avail the high priced taxi services.
Goa, considered a major holiday destination, lacks when it comes to transport facilities as compared to other cities which have metro and public bus facilities connected to the airport.
A tourist from Mumbai, Sandeep Singh, said, “I have travelled to Goa many times through all modes of transport but when it comes to airport and railway stations, both these places do not have a designated bus terminal like most airports in other cities. Goa doesn’t have a metro service either.”
Tourists at Miramar beach told Herald that they have to face much trouble after arriving in the State due to poor public transport facilities and are often harassed by taxi operators charging high rates without use of meters.