AMRITSAR: Punjabi diaspora has urged the Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, State Transport Minister Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and the Amritsar District Administration to resume the city metro bus service under the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) that was launched with much fanfare on August 17th from Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar to Ghee Mandi Chowk near Sri Darbar Sahib.
The bus route was suspended two weeks after the start, due to demonstration by private mini-bus operators.
In a joint press communiqué, the Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative Sameep Singh Gumtala, a resident of the USA and Anant Singh Dhillon, Secretary Overseas Affairs of the NGO Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), from Canada have expressed their displeasure that Amritsar Airport is the only International Airport in India that sans public transport connectivity with city center and other cities of Punjab & neighboring States despite receiving many International and domestic flights for the last over 2 decades. On the contrary, state transport department runs PUNBUS and PRTC Volvo/Mercedes deluxe bus service from many cities of Punjab to Delhi.
Gumtala said that passengers from Punjab, especially the NRI diaspora and even airlines have often expressed their discontent for Amritsar Airport not having an inter-city and inter-state bus connectivity. This long-standing demand was partially met with the start of metro bus service from the airport to Gheo Mandi Chowk, located at short walking distance from the holy precincts of Sri Darbar Sahib. The administration though has been trying hard for a long time to make Metro Bus a success all over Amritsar but most of the routes are not succeeding due to various reasons. However, the bus route from the Airport to Ghee Mandi was successful from day one with ridership increasing to over 1400 passengers daily.Thousands of travelers on this route in future will reduce the number of vehicles on roads, said Gumtala. Dhillon added, “Member Parliament from Amritsar, Gurjeet Singh Aujla on one hand had inaugurated the bus service along with City Mayor and other leaders but then after 15 days, the service was suspended bowing to pressure of mini-bus operators and announced that the route will resume soon. Now no update or any timeline has been given by the administration regarding the resumption of this service.”
This should be the top agenda for district administration, state tourism department to restore the route along with adding routes like Circular Road around City gates, Bypass, Attari Border etc. in the best interest of citizens keeping the vision of “Smart City” & benefit visiting pilgrims, tourists to the “Holy City” of Amritsar, said Dhillon.
Earlier, AVM Patron Kulwant Singh Ankhi and President Hardip Singh Chahal in a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister and State Transport Minister had also sought their intervention in this important matter and asked for directive to the district administration for resumption of this bus service, so that thousands of visitors, residents do not face any more inconvenience. AVM delegation had specifically met with Commissioner MCA, Malwinder Jaggi requesting him to resume the service without any further delay as comfort of citizens and tourists should be the priority. Manch leaders said that a cheap economical fare of Rs.15/- for air-conditioned travel from City to Airport, was a welcome step for all including locals as well as visitors arriving in our city.More than 2-lakh passengers travelled every month before COVID and the numbers are now quickly ramping up with resumption of many Int’l and domestic flights. Airport is also directly connected with daily flights to Dubai, Sharjah, with majority of flyers to the UAE working on blue collar jobs. This way bus service can provide easy, timely and an affordable transport facility for travelers disembarking at the airport. Not only that, passenger load on the flights will increase too as many international passengers from Jalandhar, Ludhiana end up traveling on bus services operated by State and privately-run operators to the Delhi Airport.
 

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