Corporate Bigwigs to Make Inroads into Delhi Bus Services

By Rajeev Ranjan Dwivedi

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) Big corporate houses are set to hit the Delhi roads with world class buses that have automatic ticketing systems, providing commuters a "safe and reliable" option to the "killer" Blueline buses that are being phased out.

The Delhi government has already allowed StarBus company to come out with around 230 buses in south Delhi, a Transport Department official told IANS.

The order for buses by StarBus company has been placed to Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland. The two companies will supply them 50 buses which will start operating by November-end. Other private players like Spicejet and Kingfisher may also be given a chance to bid for their entry into the transportation system, he added, not wishing to be identified.

According to the plan, around 600 routes in the city have been divided into 17 clusters. Each company will be given one cluster and will operate buses in a particular area.

The cluster system has been modelled on the lines of services in countries like Britain and France.

With a decision of the Supreme Court in 2008 to phase out the Blueline buses, blamed for hundreds of deaths on city roads, the Delhi government initiated steps to do away with the private-run buses but at the same time introduced the cluster system, leading to the entry of big corporate houses.

The official said the cluster system came up to fill the vacuum due to the phasing out of Blueline buses that were introduced in 1992.

According to the plan, the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) is to run 60 percent of the buses while in the rest 40 percent, the entry of corporate houses is permitted.

The corporate buses will have government drivers and conductors and also be controlled by the DTC, but the maintenance work will be done by the companies themselves, the official said.

The Delhi government will provide the companies Rs.27-42 as earning per kilometre even when the service runs into losses, but it will take the ticketing amount.

The official said the earning per kilometre of the DTC at present is Rs.27 per kilometre in the absence of Blueline buses, but earlier it was Rs.18 per kilometre.

Asked about the possibility of DTC going into losses, Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said: "Why losses when the whole amount for ticketing will come to the DTC?"

The transport department official said the buses under the cluster system will have the Global Positioning System (GPS) to trace them, besides automatic ticketing.

"Announcements will be made about the next bus stop and difference of timing of the next bus. These private buses will be world class. There will be few chances of accidents as the drivers will not be following the diktats of operators," he added.

Earlier, the Blueline buses were run by small operators, who in a bid to increase their income, would ask the drivers to go for more trips, resulting in violation of traffic norms and frequent accidents.

The Delhi government has decided not to let the remaining 800 Blueline buses ply beyond Dec 14, ending a notorious service responsible for hundreds of deaths.

However, the high court has ruled that the notification for complete phase-out of these buses by Dec 14 from the capital's roads will not apply to the Blueline buses plying in south Delhi even though the government is firm on the decision.


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