“This revolutionary step taken by the UT administration has given a ray of hope and relief to the general public”.
Like the other parts of the country, Jammu and Kashmir have also witnessed substantial growth in private transport. A good number of people are now using their private vehicles to cover distances as per their needs and convenience. However, there is a large section of people who are directly dependent on public transport services. When we define the importance of this sector in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, this service has more relevance because of its unique topographical and seasonal conditions.
Though the prime focus of this public transport is to provide comfortable and hassle-free transport service to the general masses when we observe its operation on the ground is quite the opposite. The arbitrary behavior of drivers associated with this sector made this profession infamous. There are various transport companies operating bus or Sumo services from Srinagar for different areas but unfortunately, they don’t follow traffic rules and regulations as expected from them. They forget that they are members of the same society. During winters when days are short and people have already been burdened with different hardships like biting cold, power shortages, roadblocks, and abrupt price rises of essential commodities, the non-availability of public transport during evening hours of the winter season is compounding the winter woes. Some selfish drivers are overcharging the fare; leaving the stations/ stands before the scheduled time; shortening the route as per their wish, overloading, and people hanging from the back of the vehicles have become a common sight during the evening hours. These routine irregularities are creating a lot of inconvenience to the general public mostly to patients, female folk, students, and office goers. There are complaints that a few selfish auto drivers take undue advantage of such a situation and charge exuberant fares, looting people with both hands. This situation prevails almost everywhere. Now, “This revolutionary step taken by the UT administration has given a ray of hope and relief to the general public”. The trail run has already started in the city. As per the government statement, these buses cover long and short routes within Srinagar and four inter-district routes connecting educational institutions and hospitals. The unique features of these buses are that they are equipped with a time tracking device, Wi-Fi, panic buttons, a location system, CCTV, a stop request system, and other security-related features. This initiative has been taken to encourage more people to use public transportation, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality. The non-availability of public transport during the evening hours always remains a grave issue. It is expected that this initiative will surely sort out such issues once and for all. It is also expected that a large number of people will prefer to avail of this facility to reduce their travel expenditures. If operated systematically, it will yield the best results. Let us hope for the best.
Haroon Rashid Bhat is a teacher by profession