Delhi will have at least 800 private buses supplementing the DTC fleet by June 2011. While much-awaited corporate-run buses - being seen as a replacement to Blueline buses - in Cluster 1 will start arriving by second week of January, transport officials believe the four more clusters would start functioning in next few months.
"Cluster 1, comprising 31 routes in south Delhi, will be operational in January and buses on four more clusters - having routes in southwest Delhi and Ring Road - will start arriving in Delhi from February 2011. By June 2011, we will have at least 800 corporate-run buses plying in different parts of the city," a senior transport department official said.
The transport department has divided nearly 650 bus routes across the city into 17 clusters, each comprising profitable and non-profitable routes, to be run by private operators.
So far, the department has allotted five clusters to different operators. Tenders for remaining 12 clusters are yet to be called.
"We are likely to sign agreements with the winners of four clusters in another 8-10 days. As Delhi cabinet has approved standard-floor buses for the remaining 16 clusters, which are available off the shelf, we hope the companies will start bringing buses from February onward," said Delhi transport commissioner RK Verma.
"We'll call tenders for four more clusters - this time for rural areas, east Delhi, west Delhi and northeast Delhi - by next week. Our cluster scheme is well on track," he added.
The cluster scheme was to be made operational before Commonwealth Games 2010. The company, however, was unable to get buses, as both Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland were busy fulfilling their previous commitments of providing buses to Delhi Transport Corporation and other bus Corporations in different states.
StarBus, the company that will run buses in cluster 1, has already placed order for low-floor buses.
The transport department has also earmarked space at its Millennium Park bus depot for these private buses.
"The company has to set up a small depot for its buses and a workshop at the depot. It has started hiring drivers and other staff. We expect it will start its operations by mid-January," said a senior transport official.