Turning a new leaf in the urban transport system of the state, the Chief Minister, V. S. Achuthanandan on Tuesday flagged off eight low-floor air-conditioned buses purchased with financial assistance from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

After the flagging-off ceremony organised at the Central Stadium here, the Chief Minister, the Union Minister of State for External Affairs Sashi Tharoor, Ministers, legislators and top officials of the KSRTC boarded the orange-red Volvo bus for a ride. As the bus was overcrowded, the Chief Minster and others alighted at the gate.

Hundreds had gathered in the stadium to see the modern buses and experience the unique features. Officials of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) that is operating the buses were gracious to take the public for a free ride through the capital.

Each of the low-floor air-conditioned sleek and ergonomically buses procured at a cost of Rs. 80 lakhs has several unique features and has changed the prevailing concept of buses among the public.

LCD destination boards in Malayalam and English with the route number, route and destination will come in handy for the locals and tourists. Low platform for hassle-free boarding and alighting, rear engine, automatic gear, electronically adjustable floor depending on condition of the road, comfortable seating, facility for lowering on the left side (kneeling), ramp for the physically challenged to enter the bus and facility for fixing wheel chair are some of the features.

Facilities for charging the mobile phone and laptop, computer-aided onboard diagnostic system for driver to know the fault of the engine, electronically adjustable rear view mirror, public address system for the driver to communicate with commuters, GPS enabled facility to announce and display the destination are included.

To come handy for city commuters, says CM

Earlier, inaugurating the function organised on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the buses being launched under the JNNURM will come in handy for the people of Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi that are reeling under traffic congestion.

The Chief Minister said the aim is to provide an efficient urban transport system and to encourage public to commute in them by discouraging entry of private vehicles into the streets in two cities. Mr. Achuthanandan said steps will be taken to create parking facilities in the cities as part of the city development project.

Lauding the KSRTC for implementing several schemes during the last three years to tide over the financial crisis, the Chief Minister reminded the operating crew to be more courteous to commuters.

Mr. Tharoor, who was the chief guest, criticised the state government and the city corporation for not taking steps to complete the road development works. ‘Our roads are like ponds once it rains. The citizen will have to learn swimming to move along the roads’, he said narrating his experience when the city was flooded.

The local MP promised all help to the city corporation and the government for the development of the state capital and in making Thiruvananthapuram the pride of Kerala in all ways.

The seven air conditioned low-floor buses that had reached the state will be soon launched in Kochi. With the support of the JNNURM, 350 modern buses are to be introduced in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Under the scheme, 30 AC low-floor and 120 semi low-floor buses will be introduced in the capital and 50 AC low-floor and 120 semi low-floor buses will be introduced in Kochi.

Minister for Local Self Government Paloli Mohammed Kutty presided. Mayor C. Jayan Babu welcomed the gathering. Minister for Transport Jose Thettayil handed over the keys of the buses and ticket machines to the operating crew. Minister for Law and Parliament Affairs, M. Viyakumar, Minister for Dewasom Kadannapally Ramachandran, legislators, Chairman and Managing Director of KSRTC, T. P. Sen Kumar, Executive Director and Secretary of KSRTC G Venugopal were among those who spoke.