Kolkata: Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) will come up with a foot overbridge with escalator facilities at Chingrighata to curb accidents.”We have already floated the tender. It will take around a year to complete it,” said state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim on Tuesday. Hakim, who is also the chairman of KMDA, inaugurated two underpasses – one at the crossing of Beliaghata -EM Bypass and another at Kadapara (Phoolbagan)-EM Bypass, on Tuesday. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life”We had initially planned an underpass at Chingrighata. But the condition of the Chingrighata flyover is not good. Experts have suggested that digging work under the flyover for underpass could cause further damage. So, we are constructing the foot overbridge,” the minister added. It may be mentioned that on February 3 this year, after two college students were run over by a speeding private bus, locals went berserk, setting as many as four buses on fire and pelted stones at the police. The demand for an underpass or a foot overbridge for pedestrians was raised strongly. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedIt may be mentioned that pedestrians and cyclists are barred at Chingrighata and yet people crossover from the eastern side towards Beliaghata – by foot or on cycles – to fetch water. Most of them are residents of Sukanta Nagar and Shanti Nagar, where supply of clean water is scarce. They are forced to risk their lives every day to fetch water. “We have found out that people avoid foot overbridges mainly because they do not have escalators. From now, we will have escalator facilities at all underpasses and foot overbridges,” a senior KMDA official said. The multi-directional underpass at Kadapara-EM Bypass has as many as six gates, one of which leads to the Salt Lake Stadium. The total length of the underpass is 140 metres and the width is 6 metres. There are three escalators with modern roof sheeting and sump pit arrangement for dewatering purpose. The granite floor will also facilitate the movement of pedestrians. The underpass at Beliaghata has a length of 100 metres and a width of 6 metres. It has five escalators and similar modern facilities like the Kadapara underpass. The total cost for construction of the two underpasses was Rs 33 crore.
Offering a peaceful oasis in the middle of a frenzied world is a hotelier’s prime service objective, but the style, security and comfort that envelops guests as they walk through the door belies what hotels go through to meet their prime business objective: putting butts in beds.That is especially true in New York City’s Times Square, where throngs of hotels vie for the consumers rushing past their doors daily. Hotel operators like Jason Mancuso, general manager of Room Mate Grace, may not appear to be gnashing teeth over the challenge, but the pressure is there.”We’re a new hotel, and there’s a lot of competition,” he says. “So, anything we can do to fill empty rooms, even just for that night, is a benefit.”Mancuso, whose hotel is one of the first U.S. outposts of Madrid-based Room Mate Hotels, was looking for an edge–and found it–when information on a new iPhone app called HotelTonight crossed the desk of the hotel’s revenue manager.HotelTonight, founded by serial entrepreneur Sam Shank of travel discount site DealBase.com fame, rolled out the app in January. The company developed HotelTonight after looking at ways to apply DealBase.com’s sensibilities to the mobile world. “What people wanted most was last-minute hotel booking,” Shank says.HotelTonight is available exclusively as a mobile app and, for now, only on Apple devices (including the iPad and iPod Touch). It lets users book discounted, same-night reservations at one of three different hotels, classified by the categories basic, hip and elegant. New deals are posted every day at noon.”It’s great for pushing short-term reservations at the last minute,” Mancuso says. “We have definitely seen a difference from it. People are using the app.”One of those people is Sarjoun Skaff, co-founder and CTO of Bossa Nova Robotics, a startup spun out of Carnegie Mellon University. “We were attending a trade fair in New York, and a colleague flew in unexpectedly at the end of the day,” Skaff says. “There was no space in our hotel, and it was too late to use conventional hotel booking sites.”Skaff had downloaded the HotelTonight app but hadn’t used it yet, so he decided to try it out. “The experience was flawless,” he says. “I was in the app and out in under two minutes, having searched, found and booked a good room at a great price. Navigating the app was intuitive, and the booking process was efficient.”As part of the booking process, a user can place a room on hold, giving them 10 minutes to complete the checkout or consider other options. Skaff says the last-minute booking saved money, too, getting his colleague a room for $65 that normally would go for more than $150.For now, being limited to the Apple crowd gives HotelTonight a sort of underground appeal, though Mancuso says he would love to see it go mass-market. Shank says HotelTonight is headed in that direction.”We developed for Apple first because it had the best developer tools,” he says, “but near-term, we want to be on all mobile devices.” Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Enroll Now for Free This story appears in the May 2011 issue of . Subscribe » 3 min read April 26, 2011