Sunil Kumar, a resident of Nangloi gets up at four o'clock every morning to reach work on time. But from December 14, the 25-year-old will be jobless.
Kumar, a Blueline bus conductor on route number 567, between Nangloi and Lajpat Nagar, has a bleak future staring at him. "I will look for other jobs but it is going to be difficult. I have studied only up till class four," he said.
For thousands of people, who depend on the Bluelines for their livelihood, the Delhi government's decision to phase out private buses is a huge set back.
More than 2,400 buses run by private operators will be phased out by December 14. Bus operators' union says at least 50,000 people are dependent on Bluelines for their livelihood.
Most Blueline buses employ four people — two drivers and two conductors — who work in shifts.
"They will realise how important we are when we go off the road. Didn't people travel before the Metro was operational? They are wrong if they think they can replace us with the Metro," said Satish Tripathi (38), bus driver on route number 221.
Drivers of Blueline buses earn around Rs 10,000 per month while the conductors get Rs 7,500. Those working in morning shifts usually earn more than those in the evening shifts.
"I was able to make ends meet somehow with what I used to earn. I don't know what I will do now. I hope the government hires us to drive the new buses," said Shiva, 27, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar, who is married and has a one-year-old son.
One of the biggest reasons for the phase out is the poor track record of these buses. In the last decade, these buses have killed 1,072 people, with the highest number of deaths recorded in the year 2005 when 175 people were mowed down.
"Do Gods drive DTC buses? We are all humans and make mistakes. It isn't fair to punish a fleet of more than 2,000 buses for the crimes of a few. With the owner of the bus calling us every half an hour and asking us to make as many trips as possible, mistakes are made. We don't enjoy crushing people," said Krishan Kumar (34), bus driver on route number 729.