Double Decker Bus in India

Double-decker buses seem to be a bit off-topic when it comes to the mass rapid transit system in big cities. While regular single-decker buses are a common medium of transport for most people, double-decker buses are viewed as a luxury tourist bus, or a festival, or even a movie shooting. Little did most people know that double-decker buses go back to the days of British rule in India when it was cheap transport for the middle-class people across different cities in India.

Kolkata was possibly one of the first cities in India to get double-decker buses. The first double-decker bus ran in 1926 from Kalighat in South Kolkata to Shyambajar in North Kolkata. The next city to get double-decker buses is Mumbai, which has been running these iconic red-painted double-decker buses since at least 1937. The third on the timeline is Thiruvananthapuram since 1938. Hyderabad also got its fleet of double-decker buses when the last Nizam ruler introduced them in the city in the 1940s.

Double-decker Bus in Mumbai

Chennai and Delhi started double-decker bus service quite late in 1975 and 1969 respectively. Both were short-lived and have been replaced by regular buses. Kolkata and Hyderabad both were doing well with the popularity of double-decker buses till the 1990s when they were gradually phased out. The last double-decker buses in Kolkata and Hyderabad were in 2005 and 2004 respectively. Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram on the other hand did well to continue the double-decker bus services albeit in a much lesser number than before.

Road under bridges, flyovers, bridges, rail under bridges, high tension wires, level crossings, as well as narrow, congested sections with sharp turns cause severe limitations to the operational routes of these buses in large cities. Hence these buses have scope to operate in only limited routes, which most of the time are unplanned and unpopular, competing with other means of transport or regular buses. Though a double-decker bus can accommodate a greater number of passengers, in most routes they operate almost empty, incurring heavy operational losses. These limitations, along with age and unavailability of spare parts and low speed, forced state governments to switch over to single-decker buses.

Thiruvananthapuram Double-Decker Bus

As the cityscape changes, double-decker buses also need to get modernised. Most double-decker buses in Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram are old and rusty, creating more pollution and making more noise. Modernising double-decker buses is considered the first step in both Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram. Mumbai’s bus operator, BEST has launched a new initiative to not only replace the existing buses with modern double-decker buses but also make sure they are a sustainable mode of transport for the citizens. These new buses will emit less pollution as they run on BS-6 diesel engines. Thiruvananthapuram has operated double-decker buses mainly in tourist circuits such as Shangumugham beach.

The double-decker buses have a wide potential in satellite towns and suburbs as they have wide roads, hardly any bridges or sharp turns, and are devoid of any height barrier. Kolkata and Hyderabad are looking forward to calling back double-decker buses in streets, especially the satellite town areas. Kolkata has already launched a new open-top double-decker bus for tourism purposes. However, as a mass transport system, it is yet to set the benchmark as it had done previously during British times.

Modern Double-Decker Bus in Kolkata

Cities across the world have called for come back of double-decker buses that may boost tourism, as well as be a mode of local transportation. London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dublin are witnessing a rise in double-decker buses as a mass transportation system. Full AC, open-top, electric, hybrid, trolley are some features of new modern double-decker buses. Soon, with the mix of old and new features, we are looking forward to seeing double-decker buses across Indian streets also.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Some Solutions to Combat Delhi Smog

Since the past decade, Delhi has been witnessing one of the world’s worst smog ever in October and November. Diwali and farmers are blamed every year for causing such a hazardous situation for the national capital. However, Delhi shies away from changing itself to solve the problem once and for all. It is easy to put the blame game on others, and do nothing. The Delhi Government has taken some steps to minimize air pollution, but it is usually too little too late.

More than the Delhi Government, the current infrastructure and apathy of the citizens towards the environment of Delhi are more responsible for the Great Smog. Many of Delhi’s power plants are located in the suburbs, which are completely closed during the smog period. Construction work that generates too much fly ash is also halted all across Delhi. Usually, the order from the Government comes after Delhi gets completely engulfed in smog. On the other hand, little changes in lifestyle and infrastructure could have worked better for Delhi, which exists in a place in other parts of the country. Some of them are listed below.

1)Use Delhi Metro :
Delhi metro is one of the quickest, cleanest, and easiest modes of transportation in Delhi. The carbon footprints of Delhi Metro is significantly lower than that of all other transportation. Delhi metro has expanded to connect every nook and corner of the national capital. Delhi metro over the years is increasingly becoming more and more eco-friendly by installing solar panels, providing buses and e-rickshaw, and even taxis for last-mile connectivity. Despite all the good efforts, Delhi metro is yet to attract every commuter across the city owing to its expensive ticketing costs. Kolkata metro may be an example of a cheap metro which attracted commuters from all classes due to its cheap rates.

2)Expand Delhi Suburban Railway :
Similar to the Delhi Metro, Delhi has a good network of railway lines towards the suburban cities of Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonipat, and Meerut. However, most of the tracks are used for long-distance trains and freight trains. Delhi has a ring railway which remains completely disused today. Suburban services are unattractive to the citizens, having little or no interchange with major bus or metro stops. Delhi does not have a monorail, tram, or any other form of transit other than the metro. Thus reliant on the usage of roads is heavy, causing huge traffic jams. Local trains of Mumbai are a good example of how suburban railways are used by a large chunk of the city population.

3)Lack of Greenery :
Delhi never used to lack greenery despite being the capital of various dynasties and empires. The Mughals and even the British were fond of gardens and open spaces which serves not only as a place for recreation but also as a source of fresh air and oxygen. Delhi today has grown beyond its borders and has eaten down even the small pockets of greenery that remained. Today only the southern parts of Delhi have some open space, where big, old trees are being felled for fields, locally called maidans, for sports and yoga. Nearby cities like Chandigarh, Jaipur and Agra have significantly less pollution due to large areas of natural vegetation within the city boundaries.

4)Unreliable Bus Service :
Bus service across the city is not that reliable either, prompting most people to use either private cars or bikes for transportation. Private cars and bikes are the biggest sources of air pollution in the city. Chennai has an excellent network of bus service catering 80% of the local transportation. Buses in Delhi are usually off-route, unfriendly, infrequent, and irregular, apart from being expensive, causing most of the population to stay away from using them.

5)Promotion of Green Fireworks :
No steps have been taken by the Government to stop the sale of banned fireworks, which cause too much pollution. Green fireworks, on the other hand, release significantly lower amounts of pollutants, thus can curb the sudden spike in pollution levels just after Diwali. As green fireworks are a bit on the pricier side, most sellers do not sell them to attract more customers. The Government, instead of promoting green fireworks and banning the illegal, is confused about what rules to apply. Banning illegal fireworks and promoting green fireworks comes way too late when most crackers are sold, and the crackers are unclassified whether illegal or not. Assam and the north-eastern states are doing well in this regard strictly allowing only green fireworks to be sold.

We all need to join hands and save our environment. Can you suggest some measures to do so? Tell us in the comment section below.

Written by – Himadri Paul