Treat Delhi’s buses with the same care you treat your private vehicles.
This is what Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had to say to Delhiites at the flagging-off ceremony of 107 new low-floor buses at India Gate on Sunday morning.
These 107 buses are the first batch from the 2,500 new low-floor buses that would be added to the Delhi Transport Corporation's fleet by March 31, 2010.
Festooned with flowers and balloons and carrying the logo of the Commonwealth Games 2010, the buses—30 cherry-coloured AC buses and 77 bright green non air-conditioned vehicles—were neatly lined up near India Gate.
“For visitors, local buses are the first impression of the city. Keep them clean,” said Dikshit.
But the CM made it clear the new fleet wasn’t merely a part of Delhi’s makeover for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Getting more people off private vehicles and into public transport carriers was paramount.
“In London, there are about 10,000 public transport buses for approximately 77 lakh (7.7 million) people. To cater to Delhi's 1.6 crore (160 million) people, we will have to increase the number of buses,” Dikshit said.
With the chugging in of Sunday’s fleet, the number of AC buses on Delhi’s roads swelled to 55 and non-AC buses to 708.
Dikshit empahsised the exercise to add more buses to the DTC fleet would continue even after the Commonwealth Games.
“We want to provide a comfortable public transport system to all, to those who travel by their personal two-wheelers and four-wheelers and complain of congestion,” Dikshit said.
Dikshit also asked the transport department to start special tourist buses, though “not immediately,” for those who want to take a round of all heritage sites of the Capital.
Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, accompanying Dikshit at the inauguration, said the hands that steer Delhi’s buses and manage the crowd onboard were also being trained for the Commonwealth Games.
“Special focus is being given to develop soft skills of the drivers and conductors who would be interacting the most with athletes and officials of the participating teams while ferrying them to the Games venues,” said Lovely.