Guwahati: The Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) introduced a new transit service on July 3 to link Guwahati’s LGBI airport with multiple locations within the city with the aim to offer budget-friendly travel and easy movement for travellers.
The new travel services have provided hassle-free communication from Khanapara and Paltan Bazaar to the airport and vice versa.
Since its establishment, ASTC has been providing services in Guwahati for the past ten years. It is a cost-efficient choice for the passengers. Nevertheless, the recent addition of the service hopes to accommodate a wide section of the population while cutting down on travel duration and costs.
Besides, the establishment of an ASTC airport bus counter beyond the airport hopes to ease travel experience for passengers. “Currently, three buses ply from Paltan Bazaar while two from Khanapara bus stand to the airport on a predetermined timetable. Travellers can easily access slots on the ASTC online platform,” Nibaran Nath, ASTC official, Paltanbazar said.
It is to be mentioned that the ASTC airport bus service resumes at 6 am from Khanapara bus stand, which is located on the outskirts of the city, and another from Paltan Bazar ASTC bus stand at 7 am. The buses also ply at regular intervals of every two hours on daily basis till 6 pm.
Subhankar Deb, Assistant General Manager in Finance Department of the Guwahati Airport, who commutes frequently from Paltan Bazaar spoke highly of the affordability provided by the service during a conversation with EastMojo.
However, he expressed concern over the shortage of set timings for the journeys. “The service is affordable. However, the lack of a fixed schedule for the journey back from the airport is posing a difficulty for travellers at night,” he said.
The official said that this area of concern has been shared with the ASTC officials at the airport. “They have acknowledged the problem and attributed the cause to the lack of knowledge about the service among travellers. As a result, individuals opt for alternative and pricier modes of travel such as taxi services or Rapido bikes,” Deb said.
He further said that as only a limited number of travellers avail of the bus service, it becomes difficult to arrange buses for the journey back to Paltanbazar or Khanapara.
“Based on the information given to us, the regular daily passengers count going both ways varies from 50 to 60 daily,” the official said.
Jitu Moni Kalita, in-charge of the ASTC counter at the airport, concurred with the lack of awareness among the public regarding the bus services because of the lack of promotion and the relatively distant location of the bus parking area as compared to the taxi stand.
He shared that the taxi drivers employ aggressive tactics to attract passengers, thereby impeding their reach to avail of tickets at the ASTC counter. Kalita highlighted the need to have stricter regulations to ensure fair competition, and to provide travellers with independent transportation choices.
G. Thoithoi, a resident of Manipur, also shared his views on the bus service. “I have always opted for the Airport bus instead of cabs because it is pretty cheap,” he said.
He said that the bus is usually on time but there are times when it gets delayed during certain hours due to the traffic congestion in the city. “An alternative route for the Airport buses would serve well,” he said.
Despite affordable and convenient travel option provided by ASTC, numerous commuters remain unaware of the facilities. With the Guwahati bus services at the Airport continuing to expand, it has the potential to evolve into a popular mode of transport for those who chose to travel by air.