In view of the tough topography of Himachal Pradesh, the entire communication is by and large confined to the surface transport only and the state government is endeavouring to provide the state of art transportation facilities with high standards of comfort and safety. The commuters have greater aspirations for better, reliable and comfortable transport facilities at their door step. For achieving this, the government is making all efforts to modernize the transport system. Number of buses with modern technology have been added to the fleet besides construction, up-gradation and modernization of various bus stands and workshops with required amenities.
The scheduled fleet strength of Himachal Road Transport corporation (HRTC) has been increased from 2018 to 2255 during last two years for serving the people in all villages of the state and the existing fleet strength is being increased to 2500 buses. During the current financial year the bus services will be provided on all new roads wherever required, passed by the Public Works Department besides on all those segments where heavy rush or overloading persists.
As many as 800 new buses with latest technology i.e. GPS, CCTV and passenger information system are being added in the fleet of Corporation. In these buses if the door is opened, the bus will not move. Besides, for reversing the bus, drivers are assisted by CCTV in the rear. Keeping in view the public safety the government has decided not to ply buses which are more than 10 years old and these are being replaced by the new ones in phased manner.
The corporation has introduced 500 new star buses during last two years to ensure safe and reliable transport services to the people of the Pradesh. These buses are appreciated a lot by the passengers. Out of 800 JNNURM buses, 576 buses have been received and being made operational. 10 super luxury buses are being purchased for which pre bid consultations have already been held. Besides four Volvo buses are being hired on wet lease for replacing two buses on Hamirpur-Delhi route and adding two on Manali-Delhi route.
New luxury and air conditioned buses are being added to the fleet which would connect the major cities of the State. Taking a new initiative Corporation will ply 7-12 seater buses between Shimla-Manali-Dharamshala and Chandigarh especially for facilitating the tourists to reach different destinations in the State.
Free travelling facility is being provided to the students of government schools and this year it has also been extended to the students of Kendriya Vidyalayas located in the Pradesh. Besides, 30 percent concession in fare is also being provided to the candidates in ordinary buses within the State who are appearing for interview at HP Subordinate Service Selection Board Hamirpur & HP Public Service Commission Shimla. Free travelling facility has also been allowed to the leprosy patients in the State. Reservation of seats facility has been provided to the physically & visually impaired persons in HRTC buses besides, the women have been provided with reservation of 50 percent seats in local buses.
The gross revenue of the corporation has increased from Rs. 541 crore to Rs. 610 crore during last fiscal year. To generate additional revenue, Fitness Centres in all districts have been started by HRTC and till date Rs. 2.52 crore has been earned.
Bus stands and workshops construction, renovation and up gradation has been given due attention. Construction work of nine new bus stands at Swarghat, Nirmand, Theog, Sunni, Kotli, Jaisinghpur, Dulhar and Mehre have already been awarded to the Public Works Department at estimated cost of Rs. 25 crore besides renovation of various bus stands at the cost of Rs. 2.13 crore is also being done.
Under JNURM the construction of 16 workshops (Baijnath, Bilaspur, Kullu, Theog. Dharamshala, Hamirpur, Taradevi, Nalagarh, Nagrota Bagwan, Sunder Nagar, Nahan, Jasure, Una, Rohru, Rampur and Mandi )and four bus stands ( Hamirpur, Ghumarwin, Chamba and Baijnath) at the cost of Rs. 67.18 crores is also under progress. Besides 14 locations have been identified in the state for development of bus stands cum commercial complexes under Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer (DBFOT) Project on PPP mode.
Government is contemplating for alternative mode of transport such as cable cars, trams, waterways mainly at pong, bhakra and kol dam for better and cheaper transport facilities and proposal in this regard has already been submitted to the GOI for approval.
Drivers and conductors are backbone of HRTC. To bring behavioural change and make them fully trained to ply the buses with modern technology, special training courses are being conducted in various regional offices in the State. The GoI has been principally agreed to open heavy vehicle driving training centres at Kangra, Hamirpur, Nahan and Nalagarh. Hill driving endorsement in license has been made compulsory for plying vehicles in Hilly areas.