From June, you can go to a mobile app and book yourself a seat on a bus with air-conditioning, WiFi and none of the pushing and shoving you would experience on the regular city buses.
The Delhi government on Friday announced plans to introduce bus services on the lines of taxi aggregators Uber and Ola in an attempt to woo car users.
Any company with a fleet of 50 buses or more can apply for a licence, it said. Registrations start June 1, and the government hopes to have the buses hit the road by mid-June.
It also announced strict rules such as fixed seating, app-based ticket bookings and online payment.
Linking the bus aggregator policy to the government’s odd-even scheme, Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai said, “We had the support of car owners in the first round of odd-even (in January) because the weather was good. But this time, because of the heat, they are hesitant to leave their cars. Since we have thought of enforcing odd-even every month, we must give them an option that is both comfortable and convenient.”
Not an entirely new idea, Ola and Shuttl are running over 1,000 such buses in Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad. But they are largely used as a feeder service to the Metro, plying on distances of four-five kilometers at fares of R20-25. Like the app-based cabs, these buses don’t have a permit to ply and are not controlled by any government agency.
The AAP government plans to turn them legit and run them on longer routes.
The AC buses will come with internet and CCTV cameras, while the app will have an inbuilt panic button to address concerns over women’s security. “The company will freeze bookings five minutes before the journey and upload travellers’ details on its website to ensure transparency and security,” Rai said.
The aggregator will decide routes and fares, but the minister said an upper cap on ticket prices can be fixed if there are complaints of overcharging.
There will be heavy penalties for violations. “If a driver picks up unauthorised passengers, the fine will be Rs 2,500; Rs 5,000 for other violations. Repeat offenders will have to pay Rs 5,000 per day,” Rai said.
The aggregators won’t be allowed to cancel trips. But if they do so due to unavoidable circumstances, passengers will be refunded double the fare. If they cancel trips without giving a reason, they will have to pay 10 times the fare.
Only CNG buses will be allowed and parking will be the aggregator’s responsibility.
The government will set up a grievance redressal centre where passengers can come with their complaints.
Companies with 100 buses will have to deposit a bank guarantee of Rs 25 lakh while the amount for those with bigger fleets is Rs 50 lakh. For those with over 500 buses, the bank guarantee will be Rs 1 crore.