Their mere sight on the Hyderabad roads years ago used to pique the curiosity of city people, especially youngsters. And their elegant looks were a big draw for commuters. It was thrilling for many to climb on to the upper deck and enjoy the ride through some of the popular thoroughfares.
This was the situation on the roads of this historic city about two decades ago. Now the city will be literally turning the clock back with the re-introduction of double-decker buses.
While the city has seen tremendous transformation over the last 2-3 decades, phasing out traditional modes of transport like cycle-rickshaws, double-decker buses are definitely among the modes of transport the city people want to see back on roads.
It will be sheer nostalgia for many who used to ride such double-deckers during their younger days.
At a time when these buses are in operation in several cities around the world, including Hong Kong, Singapore and London, their re-introduction on the city roads in the coming months is set to woo tourists also who throng the 430-year-old city.
“It will be great to have them back on roads after such a long time. I have wonderful memories of travelling in double-deckers during childhood,” said Ismail Shareef, a businessman.
For those who have never seen a double-decker, the move by the transport authorities will provide them the thrill.
“I have seen double-deckers only in photographs. I am eagerly waiting to board such a bus and enjoy the ride,” said Sai Reddy, a student of Class 12.
The talk of bringing back the double-decker started in November when Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development KT Rama Rao recalled the days when he used to board such buses to go to school.
“I have many fond memories of riding the double-decker bus on my way to St George’s Grammar School at Abids,” tweeted Rama Rao, who is son of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
He was responding to a tweet by one Shaker Hussain, who requested him to re-introduce double-deckers.
“Not sure why there taken off the roads,” the Minister tweeted and requested Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay to look into the possibility of re-introducing them.
The Transport Minister spoke to officials of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), which in turn set up a committee to review the feasibility of operating double-decker buses. This was necessary as the city landscape has undergone a sea change since these buses were taken off the roads.
Rama Rao’s proposal to bring back double-decker buses received support from many.
“We all have memories of joyful rides at least once in a double-decker bus. Can’t wait to get nostalgic,” said Sindhu Adarsh Reddy, a TRS corporator from Bharathinagar. She thanked KT Rama Rao for working to get many to refresh their memories.
The committee appointed by TSRTC suggested few routes for plying the double-decker buses as the routes do not have flyovers and metro rail.
TSRTC is planning to operate 25 double-decker buses. The authorities are considering feasible routes for smooth operation of the buses.
The buses are likely to be operated on Secunderabad-Medchal, Secunderabad- Patencheru, Kothi-Patencheru, CBS-Jedimetla and Afzalgunj- Mehdipatnam routes.
Double-decker buses with one driver and two conductors used to be operated till late 1990s. Citizens recall that these buses were often seen on Secunderabad-Mehdipatnam, Secunderabad-Nehru Zoological Park and Afzalgunj-Mehdipatnam routes.
TSRTC has since invited tenders from experienced manufacturers for procurement of 25 fully built double-decker non-A/C buses. “The bidder shall design, manufacture, test, supply and commission the above buses. The tenderer shall be well established and must have manufacturing and supply facilities of fully built buses in India,” reads the tender notice.
The double-decker buses can accommodate over 60 passengers. These vehicles will be 4.7 metres high and 8.7 metres wide.
The tenders will be opened on February 25 and TSRTC officials are hopeful of re-introducing double-deckers on few routes by May this year.
Double-decker buses were originally introduced by the Nizam’s Transport Services during the reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad State, in the 1940s.
After construction of multiple flyovers in late 1990s, double-deckers were taken off the roads.
TSRTC officials said construction of flyovers and manifold increase in traffic led to the phasing out of double-deckers.
Today, one finds many flyovers dotting the city roads. Metro rail has also changed the city’s face. Unlike in the past, these buses can’t be operated on several roads due to flyovers, metro rail, foot overbridges and congestion on roads.
However, plying them on selected routes is expected to bring the old charm back on the Hyderabad roads.