Kolkata: Along the lines of the river Thames in London, the state transport department is preparing to run two water taxis on river Hooghly.
A crude oil transportation company, Vivada has joined hands with the West Bengal Surface Transport Corp (WBSTC) to launch two water taxis in the first phase of a Rs 13.5-crore project. It expects to have ten of these on call taxis running by the end of this year.
A senior official said that each taxi would have a capacity to accommodate a maximum of 20 passengers. “Initially, we will run two taxis as a pilot project… The main aim is to facilitate tourism on the river, allowing people to move from tourist hotspots such as Bagh Bazar, Belur Math, Dakshineshwar and Millennium Park,” the official added.
At present, passengers wishing to take the river route have to use launches that operate to a schedule. Most of these ferry services are to the railway terminus of Howrah on the western bank of the Hooghly.
“This would be the first-of-its-kind recreational and tourism project for the state. We have floated a tender to purchase these taxis… Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had instructed that such a system be developed, similar to the Thames project,” said the official.
Officials said Kolkata and Howrah are already connected by local water ferries through ghats in Fairlie, Howrah, Shibpur, Prinsep and Cossipore among others. “We have been wanting to utilise this network of rivers and canals to boost transportation… Hopefully, this is a step in that direction,” said the official.