When nothing else works, call the Army. That’s the measure of Delhi’s frustration with the city’s private bus service (read Bluelines).
Prashant Yadav, a student, says: “Blueline buses do not deserve to be on the road. The government is incapable of bringing an alternative soon. The only way out is to call the Army and hand over the buses to them.”
Gautam Khanna, a banker, said: “It’s frustrating to see that the government cannot take action against a group of bus operators. It is time the Army takes over these buses.”
Experts know that’s not the solution. Rohit Baluja of the Institute of Road Traffic Education, says: “Army drivers are not used to driving in civilian areas and they may turn out worse.”
Some even say that the government should stop talking and get down to work. “The government should come out with a plan by Tuesday morning. Bluelines cannot run like this,” said Nalin Sinha of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. “The government should just take over these buses like the banks were nationalised earlier. They can pay a compensation to the bus owners and run it themselves or let the Delhi Transport Corporation run them,” he said.
Handing them over to DTC may not be such a good idea. The corporation is faced with a severe shortage of drivers. “We are facing a shortage of at least 2,000 drivers. We recently advertised for 2,485 posts, but could get only 260,” the official said. DTC runs 3,400 buses in Delhi and NCR.
Anyway, where is the guarantee that DTC drivers will be more careful. Some people believe that only courts can help now. “All buses in the city changed to CNG after the court’s order. A similar order can solve the present problem too,” said Maxwell Pereira, former Delhi Traffic Police chief.
Baluja suggested that corporates be roped in to run Delhi’s bus service. “At present, about 3,200 owners are running private buses. What we require is four to five big players, so operations and maintenance are under the control of few people,” he said.