The Delhi government is planning to induct only air conditioned public transport, including standard floor and medium-size buses for all new projects in the city. To begin with, 431 AC standard-floor buses will be rolled out in a phased manner between April this year and March 2018.
In a first, these air conditioned buses will be added to the cluster or orange bus fleet operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited. At present, all the 1,275 AC buses plying on city roads are run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
In a series of meetings held by transport minister Satyendar Jain over the past two months, officials have been clearly told that only AC vehicles must be considered for proposals to augment public transport. “Apart from standard buses, we are trying that all midi and mini buses that would be introduced too are air conditioned. The Dialogue and Development Commission (DDC) of Delhi is now looking after the midi bus project. The aim is to encourage people to use buses,” a government official said.
The fare for these buses is yet to be decided. While midi/mini buses are likely to have a different fare structure, experts raised concerns if one would have to shell out more for their journeys.
At present, fares of non-AC buses start at ₹5 and that of the AC ones, from ₹10.
The government is also working on a proposal to introduce an AC Maxi Cab scheme to plug last-mile connectivity. The cabs provided under the scheme will be air-conditioned and will have seating capacity of six to 12, excluding the driver. The scheme is set to be a departure from the Gramin Sewas that ply on 166 routes across the city as passengers won’t be exposed to dust, pollution and the scorching heat. Around 10,000 such AC cabs will be introduced on the city’s roads over the next one year.
“Moving beyond the metro, the government wants to create a world class public transport system in three years. The upcoming state budget is going to include these aspects and more funds are likely to be allocated,” another official added.
Apart from the 431 AC buses, DIMTS is also inducting 225 non-AC standard floor buses, 15 of which were rolled out over the past one week.
Some officials, however, differed and said the plan to induct only AC buses would be difficult. “There are hardly two manufacturers for Delhi’s buses. Most, including these two, focus on buses for other states as they are diesel-run. They take their own time to manufacture CNG buses specifically for Delhi. There is low demand for CNG buses as a whole,” an official said.
He added that it is because of this that the AC buses which would be rolled out in the next few months got delayed by several years. “Tenders for these buses were floated at least three years ago. If the manufacturers are not forthcoming then how will we meet the demand of having the required fleet of 11,000 buses?” he asked.