With the final deadline to completely phase out Bluelines expiring on Monday, the 'killer' fleet, which had gained notoriety for involvement in frequent mishaps, will be off the roads from February 1.
As part of efforts to streamline the public transport system in the city, the Delhi government had shunted out 823 Blueline buses on December 14 last year and removed 389 more on December 31 out of a total of 2,052 such vehicles. Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely had earlier said January 31 will be the "last day" for the remaining 840 Blueline buses in the city.
He said the state run Delhi Transport Corporation will able to meet the transportation needs of the people. Officials said the "complete phase out" of the fleet is "on schedule" and notices have been issued to Blueline operators to surrender their permits by Monday.
The Delhi High Court had on January 20 reserved its order on the city government's plea not to permit the Blueline buses to come back on roads. The bus operators had moved the court seeking to run their buses on the roads till the government implements the new cluster bus system.
The court has turned down operators' plea for extension of permits of one-third of the 2,000 Bluelines which lapsed. Justifying its decision to phase out Blueline buses, the government had told the court that the private buses are six times more accident prone than DTC buses. A Delhi government official said any Blueline bus plying on roads after January 31 will be impounded as permits have been suspended.
Asked about some Bluelines running on roads after painting the vehicles white, he said a drive will be launched and all buses running without permit will be seized. Asked about the challenge before the DTC, an official from the transport agency said it is capable of handling the passenger traffic of the city.
"We now have a fleet of 6,200, including 3575 low floor buses. We are confident of being able to handle the situation. There will be no problem. At any given day, at least 5,000 DTC buses are there on the roads," the official said.
The Delhi government has been trying to modernise the entire public transport system in the city and has procured hundreds of swanky low floor buses, including air conditioned and non air conditioned vehicles. The government had last year announced an ambitious cluster bus service scheme under which corporate entities were proposed to be given certain routes in the city on the pattern of cities like Paris and London.
The first cluster bus service is expected to begin its operation in February. Delhi government had in 2009 divided nearly 650 bus routes across the city into 17 clusters, each comprising profitable and non-profitable routes and decided to give each cluster to a private operator.