After an abrupt halt in July 2014, city buses of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation are back. As many as 12 buses were flagged off on Monday during the re-inauguration of the service, which saw Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria and senior deputy mayor Sunita Aggarwal present.
The buses will operate with a local firm, Horizon Connect Transways Pvt Ltd, paying the MC Rs 3,900 per bus per month. Further, the company will bear all costs of drivers, fuel, conductors, operations, maintenance and fare collection.
Tenders were issued again after Pune-based Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions Private Limited, which was given the contract on a Gross Cost Contract (GCC) basis, abandoned the bus service abruptly and blamed the MC for not paying pending fuel bills. Horizon had then successfully bid for Rs 48 lakh per year for 105 buses.
To break the monopoly, the civic body divided the bus service into three clusters this time, with each cluster to be given to separate firms. However, Horizon quoted the maximum for all three clusters.
A project under the JNNURM (Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission), Ludhiana started the city bus service with Prasanna. As per records, the civic body is yet to pay Rs 2.60 crore to Prasanna. In a press statement issued by the firm in July last year, “there is no money to pay the diesel costs and the MC is not paying the outstanding Rs 2.6 crore and, thus, the company is stopping its services”.
At present, the bus service has been re-started between Green City to Bus Stand via the Jalandhar bypass, railway station and clock tower. Singh added that eight more buses will start on Wednesday and by the end of February all 105 buses will be back.