The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking [CTU], a division of the Chandigarh Union Territory Administration, that comes directly under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, operates buses in and around the Tricity area. It also operates a few long distance routes to neighbouring regions in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh as well as Jammu and Kashmir.
The CTU came into existence in 1966 with a fleet of 30 buses. Today it has 468, with 329 of them operating as city buses and the remaining on long distance routes. Interestingly, it had 517 buses till 2011-2012.
The CTU operates two Inter State Bus Terminals [ISBTs]:
- The ISBT at Sector 17 caters to local buses, as well as buses catering to Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
- The ISBT at Sector 43 caters to local buses [AC buses included] and to those catering to Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
The CTU has four depots, one near Powergrid, where its head office is also present, one in Sector 28, one in Sector 25, and the fourth one at the Sector 43 ISBT.
Chandigarh is a fairly active city, mainly due to the presence of Mohali [Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar/SAS Nagar] in Punjab and Panchkula in Haryana that are contiguous with it. Services operated by the CTU also extend to these two towns along with other areas in the region.
While an exact count of CTU’s AC and non-AC fleet isn’t available, CTU does have a sizable fleet strength in AC buses as well. The fleet colour is the same as Delhi, Green for non-AC and Maroon for AC. The Corona fleet that connects the two ISBTs to the new Mohali terminal of the airport is Red in colour. Among the buses that CTU has, it has AC and non AC Tata Marcopolos. It also has minibuses, both AC and non-AC, which follow the same colouring scheme. However, unlike the Delhi counterparts, these buses are not powered by CNG, instead being Diesel buses and thus efficient, along with good, functional air-conditioning units.
The CTU has passes for its commuters, with a regular Monthly Pass priced at ₹720 for AC and ₹470 for non-AC buses. A ₹30 Smart Card is issued for a pass, although ticketing is not electronic. Daily Passes are also available, priced at ₹30 for non-AC and ₹40 for AC buses. These passes are valid on the respective buses within the Municipal Limits of the Tricity. Thus, if I am on a bus to Landran, the pass is valid only upto Sohana where the Municipal limits of the Mohali Municipal Corporation ends. For journeys beyond Sohana, I’d have to buy a ticket. Not bad, I guess.
All this seems to work well with the CTU’s plan to focus more on the entire Tricity Area and not just the Union Territory of Chandigarh alone. AC fares were also slashed back in 2015 to encourage Public Transport.
Fares are on the lower side, similar to Delhi. DTC and DIMTS charge ₹5, 10, 15 for non-AC and ₹10, 15, 20, 25 for AC buses. CTU charges ₹5, 10, 15 for non-AC and ₹10, 15, 20 for AC buses.
However, the major issue with the CTU is lack of services in several areas outside of the Union Territory.
Take for instance, Mohali. Phase V in Mohali has no CTU bus, inspite of having numerous bus stops everywhere. The closest place from where you can get a bus is Phase VII, which is a good kilometre away. Further, only Landran bound buses operate on this route, with the last bus leaving at around 7.30-8pm.
Similarly, Panchkula too has its fair share of problems. The CTU route list doesn’t list out too many buses heading out to Mohali, Panchkula, Zirakpur, Manasdevi, et al. In fact, while Mohali does have a few buses, Panchkula seems to have fewer.
As far as ticketing and passes are concerned, the CTU uses the traditional punched ticket system that we Mumbaikars are used to seeing. Of course, the tickets are in multiple colours [pink and yellow] like PMPML, and double the size of a standard PMPML ticket. Interestingly, the ID Card for Monthly Passes is a Smart Card, which leads one to believe that the CTU is going to implement an Electronic Ticketing System soon.
The CTU has a lot to learn from other STUs, namely BEST [for operating services outside its administrative boundary as well as Electronic Ticketing], KSRTC-MCTD [for its ITS] and TSRTC-Hyderabad [for taking feedback from Commuters in running newer services]. Similarly, other STUs need to learn from the CTU, like DTC [operating buses beyond the boundaries], DIMTS [for privatising bus routes], and of course, BMTC [to learn how to run buses in the first place]. The CTU model can be adopted in any area where city buses cross state borders. Municipal borders for buses owned by a Corporation can also be taken into consideration.
Overall, I think the CTU has done a good job for the city of Chandigarh. It is the Greater Chandigarh/Chandigarh Tricity Area/Chandigarh Capital Region that needs better services.
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