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Thousands suffer as Blueline mess continues

Though some cursed the government, many felt it would be worth it if the Blueline buses got disciplined in the process.

delhi Updated: Jul 24, 2007 17:09 IST

Tens of thousands of commuters suffered another agonising day in the Indian capital on Tuesday as a large number of Blueline buses kept away from the roads, waiting to be declared fit to ply.

And even as commuters cursed the government and the privately owned fleet for their suffering, many felt it would be worth it if the notorious Blueline buses got disciplined in the process.

"The government measure may bring relief to people from the growing Blueline bus accidents. We hope this inconvenience will end soon," said Rajan Sale, who was among the many at a bus stand in Vasant Vihar in south Delhi waiting to go to Nehru Place.

Added his friend Vinod Kumar: "We are ready to suffer. The private bus operators will now listen to the commuters and adhere to rules and regulations. Such drives should be launched from time to time."

But the bulk of the commuter population seemed to have had enough.

About 1,000 Blueline buses, or a fourth of the fleet, operated on Tuesday along with 2,800 buses of the state-run Delhi Transport Corp (DTC). On Monday only 700 private buses were on the roads.

After a string of fatal accidents involving Bluelines, the Delhi government declared that none of the buses would be allowed to ply unless they fitted speed governors that worked and proved they had the documents to operate in the city.

In the process, many owners have simply grounded their buses while hundreds of buses are waiting at DTC depots. And with the checking taking days, tempers are running high. Bus commuters are asking how these buses plied all these years.

Across the city, thousands of bus commuters, most of whom cannot afford any other means of transport, underwent another painful day.

Almost all DTC and Blueline buses plying on Tuesday carried double their capacity, leaving hardly any standing room inside them.

In many buses, people could be seen hanging perilously. The worst sufferers were women and children.

Always ready to make a fast buck, autorickshaw drivers fleeced harried commuters.

"I had to pay Rs 300 for an auto drive from ITO to Hotel Oberoi," said Smita Narayan, an advertising executive.

"I waited for almost half hour to catch a bus from Dwarka to Safdarjung. The government should arrange for more buses to improve the condition," said a tired Harish Arora, who works with a private company in Safdarjung Enclave.

But some people insisted that things had improved on Tuesday.

"Bus services have improved slightly, you can spot more Bluelines," said Raj Kumar Arora, an office goer.

Radhika Gupta, a student of Hansraj College, told IANS: "On Monday, I waited for over 45 minutes to catch a bus. Today it was just 15 minutes!"

The 4,200-strong Blueline fleet has been driven off the roads for its recklessness that has led to 64 deaths and over 150 injuries this year. In the current month alone, Blueline buses have killed nine people.

On Sunday, nearly 1,400 buses were tested and 50 per cent of them were declared unfit to ply.