Delhi Government's ambitious 'corporate buses' project finally took off on Thursday. Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and transport minister Arvinder Singh flagged off a fleet of 50 low-floor buses at Delhi Secretariat.
These buses replace Blueline buses, which earned notoriety as 'killerline' buses, because of their involvement in several fatal accidents.
Equipped with close-circuit cameras, internal announcement system, automatic vehicle location system and electronic ticketing machines, these buses will initially ply on four routes.
These routes are 411 (Ambedkar Nagar to Mori Gate), 419 (Ambedkar Nagar - Old Delhi Railway Station), 423 (Ambedkar Nagar to Mori Gate) and 522 (Ambedkar Nagar to Rajendra Nagar).
It will strengthen public transport on Delhi's only Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor. "It (cluster buses) will significantly improve public transport in Delhi," said chief minister Sheila Dikshit.
Though the fare in these buses would be the same as in DTC buses, no concessional bus pass would be valid.
"We are in the process of replacing bus passes with smart cards. Once we have automatic fare collection system and smart card tickets, bus passes would also be accepted in cluster buses," transport minister Arvinder Singh said.
In the next three months, these buses would be seen on 32 different bus routes in south Delhi, classified as Cluster 1. There will be 231 private buses in Cluster 1, including 20 purple air-conditioned buses.
The transport department has made 17 clusters of 657 bus routes — comprising both profitable and non-profitable routes. Each cluster would be run by a private operator.
There will be 4,400 cluster buses in the next couple of years.