A Bus Delayed is a Bus Denied: Commuters’ Testimonies from a Suburban Route in Agra.

JNNURM buses are a regular feature in Agra for almost a decade now yet there is little information about the city bus service, it’s routes, frequency, timing, stoppage etc. Opinion Tandoor is trying to bring the readers up to speed on the city bus service and also making sure that people have better, regular and timely access to the city buses. As part of this initiative for the next few weeks perspectives and experiences of bus commuters from Agra as well as statistics of usage of various modes of urban transportation, especially buses will be shared in this post. So to remain updated on buses in Agra keep checking Opinion Tandoor. Following are few of the testimonies of commuters on Shamshabad Road, one of the eight routes in the city where city buses (are supposed to) operate.

Abhinav Parashar, working in Delhi presently, recalls the ordeal of taking a bus to his college when his two wheeler had broken down, a few years ago. Abhinav who lives on Shamshabad road, one of the suburban routes, had to commute daily to his college on the Mahatma Gandhi road. In absence of any buses plying on his route, he had to take a shared autorickshaw (always overcrowded and dangerous) to nearest stop on the MG road from where he had to take a bus (often late and usually overcrowded). He says that if bus conditions were optimal he would prefer taking the bus as it is more economical and convenient.

Absence of buses on this route has not improved during this time. Vatsal Khandelwal, who travels daily to a local club in Agra to play sports has to often face the ordeal of finding an auto rickshaw in absence of any city buses on Shamshabad road. Either he has to shell out upwards of Rs 50 for hardly two kilometres of ride or share an auto with another eight or ten people for Rs 10, hanging out the side of the auto. He says that he would rather prefer a bus ride, which he feels is not only safer but also more comfortable.

Lack of buses on the main route is not the only problem as capillary roads attached to the arterial Shamshabad road suffer from any type of transportation connectivity. Pooran Singh Kushwaha is a gardener and lives in Shyamo village on Shamshabad road. When asked if city buses ply on his route he says no but adds that even if they did, he wouldn’t take them as to board them he would have to walk about three kilometres from his village to the main road in absence of any commute from his village to the main road. He has to travel daily to work for about 15 kilometres. Recently he had to buy a moped before which he used to ride his bicycle to work. While this might have proved less strenuous, his transportation cost has escalated many times as his monthly petrol costs come around Rs 2000.
Shamshabad Road is an important route as it connects long existing and upcoming suburban residential areas on this road as well as semi-urban and rural areas to the city. Many workers, students and other residents commute daily to the city on this route. The area is one of the upcoming ones where the population is constantly on the rise. Situated close to Taj Mahal and many hotels quite a few professionals also reside in this area. Yet the bus scenario leaves a lot to be desired.
(If you have stories about bus commute in your area which are similar to ones shared here or different to them, please share them with Opinion Tandoor at opinion.tandoor@gmail.com.)




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