Each day, more Bluelines are returning on the roads after obtaining fitness certificates issued by the Delhi Government and very soon, the government assures, the whole fleet would be back to end commuter woes. In the meantime, the government has fallen silent on its earlier promise of phasing out the killer fleet.
The government had announced plans of involving corporate houses and cooperatives to run bus services in the Capital, as they can be easily held accountable for accidents unlike small operators. The government also came out with an “expression of interest” inviting parties who had a fleet of at least 100 buses.
It is, however, still to come out with the finer details of the plan, making it difficult for operators to come forward. Recently, it said that the old “kilometre” scheme would once again be revived but there is no word on that either.
Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf could not be contacted over the phone despite repeated attempts. Government sources, however, confirmed that the ministry was planning to implement the “kilometre” scheme and a meeting on this issue would be held on Thursday.
Corporates and cooperatives
Bus operators say that there are no big operators in Delhi with even 50 buses to form a cooperative and, hence, it would be formed by the same small operators who run Bluelines now. “Even in the cooperative, the same people would run the buses. As there are no big operators, keeping the cooperative a cohesive body might be difficult,” said BP Singh, an operator. "It might also be tough to work out the sharing of profit." SP Singh of the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training said the government’s schemes were plain rhetoric.
“The ‘kilometre’ scheme is the best possible option for the government now as it is a lesser evil,” SP Singh said. “The government has to work out the payment though.”
Under the scheme, the buses owned by operators are run by their drivers but the earning goes to the Delhi Transport Corporation, whose conductor is present in the bus. The operator, in turn, is paid per kilometre. When the scheme was in operation before 2001, operators got Rs 12.50 per kilometre.
“It is a no tension job for operators and even the drivers also do not overspeed as there is no competition,” BP Singh said. “Though the payment is less.”