The much-awaited and ambitious cluster bus service, to be run by corporate entities and modelled on the public transport system of Paris, was launched in New Delhi on Thursday with an initial fleet of 231 swanky low-floor buses.
"The cluster service will significantly improve public transport facilities in Delhi. People will now have better road transport options," chief minister Sheila Dikshit said after opening of the service.
The service for the first cluster will be run by Star Bus Pvt Ltd in 32 routes in South Delhi. Three corporate entities were already given contract to operate the services in five clusters.
Buses will have an on board passenger information system similar to that of Delhi Metro which will provide commuters with various information like upcoming bus stops, expected time of arrival and traffic flow.
Trained staff will operate the buses which shall come with global positioning system and temperature reader, while conductors will issue tickets through Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETMs).
The fleet will be Euro-IV compliant.
In 2009, the Delhi government had 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.
The cluster bus service was envisaged to replace the 'killer' Blueline fleet, which has almost been phased out from the capital.
With the launch of the service, the transport system is set to improve further. The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) currently operates around 6,500 buses, including 4,000 low-floor buses.
The government had last year announced the ambitious scheme under which corporate entities were sought to be involved in this transport system on the pattern of cities like Paris and London.
Officials said the private entities given contract for four other clusters will also soon launch their operations and the total fleet size under the new service is expected to be around 800 buses by August this year.
Non-AC buses will be painted in orange, while those with air-conditioning system shall come in a purple hue.
The government wanted to do away with competition and hence, they devised to provide one cluster to one corporate entity.
As per the plan finalised by Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System (DIMTS), the transport department will finalise the bus fares which will go to the government while the private operator will be paid a fixed amount on the basis of every kilometre travelled.