CSTC Route 16 Double Decker Buses: The Legacy Lives On

A man decorating an old Double Decker Bus of West Bengal that operated on CSTC Route 16

The double-decker buses of West Bengal CSTC Route 16 were once a fan favorite 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 CSTC Route 16.

No, I’ve not seen the bus ever in my life, because it was long gone even before I was born. And I consider myself unfortunate.

Such was the craze for this CSTC Route that although 27-28 years have passed since the closure of the route, its spirit lives on.

You come to Shibpur, and ask anyone whether they have heard about Route 16, and they would reply to you back with an enthusiastic YES! Their next question would be, “Any idea when the CSTC Route 16 will restart?”

Calcutta State Transport Corporation is the old name of the WBTC, the West Bengal Transport Corporation. It was established on July 31, 1948, as a transport corporation undertaken by the West Bengal state government, and had its headquarters in Kolkata.

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The Shibpur Tram Depot, around a kilometer’s distance from the State Secretariat Building, 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 CSTC Route 16 (Shibpur Tram Depot to Dhakuria) 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 on Route 16 used to start as early as 4 AM, and it used to be the favorite 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.

Starting from the iconic Howrah Station, MG Road, College Street, and Sealdah the CSTC Route 16 used to touch almost all the essential junctions of Howrah and Kolkata districts.

An old CSTC Route 16 Double Decker bus on the roads of West Bengal

CSTC Route 16 Phased Out

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

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

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

Although I have never had the opportunity of a ride on this legendary route, the memories shared with 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 popular Bengali phrase, “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 that I’ll choose to describe the legacy of Route 16.

May the double-decker buses of Route 16 glow forever in the pages of history, forever to come.

CSTC Route 16 Double Decker Buses: The Legacy Lives On

Aniket Banerjee is a Prime Minister Research Scholar at IIT Guwahati. A native of Howrah, West Bengal, he is an avid bus enthusiast and is the General Secretary of Kolkata bus-o-pedia.

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