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Double Decker Buses of West Bengal - The Legacy of Route 16 Lives On

Double decker bus West bengal

The humongous beasts were once a fan favourite amongst the people of Bengal till the 1990s. Being a resident of Shibpur, Howrah district one bus route that I'm very familiar with is route number 16. No, I've not seen the bus ever in my life, because it was long gone even before I was born. However, such was the craze, that although 27-28 years have passed since the closure of the route, its spirit lives on. You come to Shibpur, and ask anybody whether they have heard about route 16, and they would definitely reply to you back with an enthusiastic YESSSS! Their next question would be, "Any idea, when will the bus route 16 restart?"

Shibpur Tram Depot, around 1km away from the State Secretariat Building, Nabanna used to be a hotspot for bus lovers of West Bengal. It had everything a transport enthusiast could ever want -- starting from the trams, to the double-decker buses of West Bengal and the iconic bus route 55A. The tram depot area is mainly known for 3 different routes -- two bus routes and a tram route.

Keeping the tram part aside, the bus routes included route number 16 (Shibpur Tram Depot to Dhakuria), operated by the erstwhile Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) and two buses in route number 55 -- 55A (Shibpur Tram Depot to Esplanade via Brabourne Road) and route number 55B (Shibpur Tram Depot to Esplanade via Strand Road).

According to my father, buses in route no 16 used to start from as early as 4AM in the morning, and it used to be the favourite bus route for people going to College Street or Gariahat from Shibpur. The frequency was decent, and what’s more fascinating were the double-decker buses that used to ply on this route.

Double decker bus West bengal
PC: Oneindia

(Also Read: Why Germany has Buses with Tamil Signboards)

Starting from the iconic Howrah Station, MG Road, College Street, and Sealdah the bus route used to touch almost all the important junctions of Howrah and Kolkata districts.

As to why the bus route 16 has been discontinued still remains a mystery.

People from the locality keep on asking what prompted the state transport department to come up with the idea of phasing out such an important route.

Fast forward to 2020, while double-decker buses have made a come back in West Bengal with two buses already delivered, the legacy of the bus route 16 is still very much alive.

Although I have never had the opportunity of a ride on this legendary route, the memories shared to me by my family and seniors make me desperate for a chance to get on this bus route in a double-decker bus at least once in my lifetime.

There's a phrase in Bengali, "তারে আমি চোখে দেখিনি, তার অনেক গল্প শুনেছি", which translates to I've never seen it, but I've heard a lot about it. This is the exact phrase which I'll choose to describe route number 16. May your legacy live on forever. May the double-decker buses of route 16 glow forever in the pages of history, for ever to come.

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