Sightseeing coaches have not achieved target of 90-100 passengers a day; Four more buses expected to be added in coming weeks
Almost six months after they finally rolled onto the streets of Panjim, the swanky sightseeing coach service – Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) buses – are yet to catch the attention of the visitors, particularly tourists who one would otherwise image would make a beeline for the service.
The long wait for this service, amidst confusion over permissions from Transport Department, ended in May 2017 when the first-of-its-kind bus service in the country was unveiled in the State.
Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) in association with Pune-based Prasanna Purple Group launched two open roof double decker and two single decker buses. The royal red buses promised to offer tourists sightseeing circuits in and around the capital city, Old Goa, Miramar and Dona Paula in Phase-I while the North Goa and the South Goa tour would be covered in Phase–II and Phase-III respectively.
In the last over five months, the buses have not quite got the frenzied response from tourists as one thought, but it’s not too far behind on target either. As against the target of achieving 90-100 passengers a day, the average number of passengers averages 70-80, with fewer passengers on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“It is challenging but we are growing. We are very positive that the entertaining bus service will catch up among visitors. I am not saying it is a great response but we are definitely getting a good response, and the popularity will grow in the coming days,” Manoj Daniel, holding a key position in the PURPLE core management team told Herald. “Except for Wednesdays and Thursdays, the number of visitors on board on other days, including the first working day of the week (Monday) is good.” The buses, operating from 9 am to 6 pm on regular basis, have special local based multi-lingual running commentary, CCTV surveillance, GPS tracking, trained tour guides, guest relationship executives and more. Two separate routes for the huge double decker and the hydeck buses have been set. However, its competitors are the outstation tour buses that bring in loads of tourists from their respective states to Goa.
PURPLE says they do not feel so. “The tour buses from different states have dedicated timings and other modalities. We are different and our concept is different. For example, if any passengers on-board HOHO wants to spend quality time at Miramar beach or any location, they can and then board the following HOHO bus plying through that route,” he said explaining the liberty given to passengers.
As of now, he claimed, they get a good number of online bookings while also many schools are choosing the bus ride for its students. The buses have two major points – Miramar beach circle and Raibandar-Patto causeway – from where passengers on the double deckers are shifted to single decker considering hurdles like overhead wires, narrow roads, etc. “The authorities are pro-active. In the last few weeks, many wires belonging to electricity, telephone, cable, etc have gone underground. So also, we are using these buses to trim the overgrown tree branches as it helps to gauge the height. All government agencies and the City Corporation are working in coordination,” he justified. Herald also spoke to GTDC Chairman Nilesh Cabral over the unsatisfactory response to the unique bus ride in the country, to which he replied, “The concept will take time. The service had to start and we are also finalising more routes. I am certain it will pick up soon. GTDC and the company are aggressively promoting the concept.”
By this month-end, PURPLE is expected to add four more buses to the existing fleet, which would be exclusive for the North Goa trip.