The tag line on the website of HRTC loudly spells out – HRTC: safe service & courteous service. I had always vied for traveling by HRTC buses having full faith in the government undertaking, but a recent experience of traveling from Shimla to Delhi by the so-called luxury bus run by HRTC makes me ponder over kinks in the service.
On 12th April, 2010, I was supposed to travel from Shimla to Delhi via the AC deluxe bus that leaves at 10:30 in the morning and an advanced booking for the same was done the previous day. I reached around quarter to ten at the Shimla main bus stand (thanks to the growing traffic snarls in Shimla, which is in a way a blessing in disguise as it makes people move to their destinations earlier than the stipulated time, thus instilling the habit of punctuality) to board the bus for Delhi.
It has been around 10.20 am and the bus is not visible and this sends my brains ticking, and I approach enquiry counter number 9, where the clerk asks me to proceed to counter number 3. At this counter the dealing person simply says the bus will not be plying to Delhi as it had broken down somewhere. He further asked me to give my ticket to him and avail the refund. At the moment I just went blank as had to proceed to Delhi on the very same day. Now, what do I do?
I just asked him:
* Why was there no prior announcement made for the passengers to let them know that the bus will not be plying to Delhi.
* Why was there no alternative arrangement in the form of another bus? (as a back-up) to which the person at the counter simply replies there is a luxury bus at 11.15 am for Delhi.
Two ladies who were first timers to Shimla were also supposed to board the same bus and had been waiting for the same bus since 9.30 in the morning. They came to know that the bus was not plying to Delhi only when I told them. We had no option but to proceed to Delhi by the 11.15 Volvo.
It sets one wondering that in cases where one cannot postpone travel plans, HRTC should make alternative arrangements and have their back-ups ready in form of other buses or at least inform the passengers about the actual position so that they can make their own arrangements.
The condition of the so-called luxury buses on the other hand would require another section to highlight the situation. Consumers prefer to travel by these buses for the comfort which they are supposed to offer – the loops to dispense water bottles are falling off, curtains too are falling off, a TV monitor is stacked in front, but hardly ever it has been turned on.
These issues certainly spell out a discourteous imagery.