Cuttack: Bus operations to Puri from different parts of the State and outside are being ramped up in view of the visitor surge to the Pilgrim Town for Nabakalebara Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath.  More than 100 additional private buses will ply from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to Puri from July 17 to 27 apart from the routine service. Besides, special amenities and facilities will be set up for convenience and comfort of passengers at bus stands in the Twin City and Puri,  Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association (OPBOA) said on Tuesday.

The buses will travel till Talabania from where the passengers would enter the town on foot. The association with the help of State Transport Authority (STA) will set up passenger sheds to allow people to rest. The sheds will have basic amenities like drinking water, toilets and food centres and can accommodate 1500 passengers at one time. Special meals at `10 will also be provided to people with the help of Akshaya Patra Foundation, Sahoo said.

As many as 80 buses from Cuttack and 77 buses from Bhubaneswar ply to Puri on a normal day with each making about four trips. Besides, there are 22 inter-State and long distance buses from other parts, particularly Western and Southern Odisha districts along with 14 operated by the OSRTC. “Expecting a huge increase in visitor inflow to Puri this year, 100 private buses have been given special permits to make trips to the city during the Rath Yatra festival. Around 40 other buses, whose end destination is Bhubaneswar, have also been extended to Puri for the rush period,” general secretary, OPBOA Debendra Sahoo said.

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“Despite a significant increase in trains, we expect around five to six lakh people taking the buses for Rath Yatra festival. In view of huge rush, the Puri bus stand at Cuttack and Kalpana Chowk bus stop at Bhubaneswar will also be equipped with passenger sheds. Apart from basic amenities, medical aid centres will be opened at all places by the Association,” Sahoo said.

The Association has also laid particular thrust on passenger safety and security issues. The buses have been warned against overloading even as staff are being trained to be vigilant and immediately report suspicious elements or articles to the public. In case of detection of any unclaimed bag or luggage, the staff have been asked to immediately vacate the bus and call the police for examination, the Association said.

Source: New Indian Express        Dated: July 15,  2015