- Margao’s BUS SERVICE takes a BACKSEAT
Margao’s BUS SERVICE takes a BACKSEAT
According to Margao RTO, on an average around 40 new two-wheelers hit the roads daily; The town has witnessed the registration of over three lakh two-wheelers in the last five years; The nine designated bus stops are stretched to even 15 unauthorised ones to pick up passengers just to earn that extra buck
The five-km journey from Chowgule College to Margao on a two-wheeler takes just seven minutes, but boarding a private bus along the same route makes it 20 minutes to reach one’s respective destination, which can later turn into tiring 30-minute ordeal especially during peak hours.
One of the reasons being irregular halts, which means the current nine designated stops are stretched to even 15 unauthorised ones to pick up passengers just to earn that extra buck and that too with no tickets issued to the passengers. The nominal bus charged along the route is Rs 8 but the bus conductor overcharges passengers on the pretext of no change and refuses to issue a ticket. There have been instances wherein conductors are alleged to have hurled abuses at passengers and passersby and none of them wear a uniform. Further, the bus has a signboard which displays ten standing but the same is packed with twenty-odd people, which makes the journey more time consuming and uncomfortable as irate customers rue travelling by bus.
“In terms of intra town transport within Margao or even connecting to the villages within the vicinity, I blame the bus operators for the current mess. If bus operators were sincere in their services and had followed rules with regards to number of passengers standing, bus timings, issuing tickets and refusing to pick up passengers at unauthorised stops, people would have loved to travel by bus,” explains Kautuk Dessai, a bus operator.
Like Kautuk, Marien Lobo, a senior citizen from Borda, who travels across Aquem, Davorlim and Margao by bus rues how he has to change two buses at Holy Spirit Junction just to make his way home from KTC to Borda or Aquem and even worse is the fact that at times the bus drivers dangerously take a reverse at the busy bus stand to take passengers onboard.
“The private vehicles especially the two-wheelers are increasing in number day-by-day. The government may have changed the rules now and the minimum powered capacity of a non-geared two-wheeler but earlier anybody could own one and get a licence. Even the licensing authority has been involved in red-tapism. The increase in two-wheeler owners means people have shunned public transport totally. Even people pay more at times for school bus, motorcycle pilot and auto rickshaw service which they feel is safer then buses,” Lobo charged.
Rocky Fernandez, who resides near the Holy Spirit Church, says, “The bus drivers create a traffic jam near Hospicio hospital by moving at a snail’s pace just to get passengers on board thereby choking the town.”
“These buses often go unchecked and in turn pay hefty bribes to the RTO and Traffic Police for clearance. They flout traffic rules in order to get passengers to make up for the bribe amount,” Rocky alleged.
Another commuter Jeremy Dias, who travels from Margao – Panjim says the lack of amenities at Margao’s bus stand and the fact that some buses ply from behind Grace Church while some from the old praca make it unfeasible to change buses especially for senior citizens with their shopping bags.While some women, who shun public transport, feel that Margao’s buses are too dark and unsafe for women to travel especially after 6 pm.
“Very often people travel on a scooter with their family including wife and kids violating all traffic rules but there is no one to question or stop such individuals. If the police were strict against traffic violations people would be forced to opt for a bus facility,” says Lathan Costa from Margao, who tells us how two-wheeler riders have put the commuters’ lives at risk by violating traffic rules.
“I agree to the issue of traffic violations even by bus operators. We are doing our level best but our Margao Town Traffic Cell is short-staffed and has to look into traffic issues right from Margao town its municipal wards to Karmalghat, Canacona. We’re short-staffed to control and look into traffic matters and clamp down on traffic violators to ensure that people opt for bus service,” informs Margao Traffic Cell P I Mohan Gawde.
The Margao RTO informed Herald that on an average around 40 new two-wheelers hit the road daily and the town has witnessed the registration of over three lakh two-wheelers in the last five years which indicates that each household has a minimum number of 2 two-wheelers.