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Delhi’s public transport far from ready for govt’s odd-even formula

Breathe delhi Updated: Dec 29, 2015 16:57 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times
Even-odd formula

Traffic jam at the ISBT Anand Vihar Bus terminal in East Delhi. The DTC fleet has only 4,712 buses to carry 3.5 million passengers across the city, a number likely to go up if the government implements car rationing in Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

Delhi is staring at chaos as its already stretched public transport system -- especially the DTC and metro -- will have little room for millions of vehicle owners who will be barred from driving once road rationing kicks in.

The city has 2.7 million private cars and 5.8 million two-wheelers, official data shows. Come January 1, half of these -- around 4.3 million vehicles -- will be off the road daily, which means millions of people will need some mode of transport to get by.

These numbers do not include hundreds of thousands of people who drive to the Capital for work or business from the neighbouring states.

The ban on private vehicles on alternate days according to their registration numbers is barely a month away. But, it would be in March that the Delhi Transport Corporation would get new buses, sources said.

Read | Delhi govt asks people to give car rationing a chance; full plan soon

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which ferries 2.6 million passengers a day, will add new coaches only by September.

While announcing the odd-even formula for vehicles to clean Delhi’s toxic air, the government had said it would run extra buses and ask metro to increase frequency but odds are stacked against it.

The DTC fleet, which carries 3.5 million people across the city and NCR every day, is down to 4,712 buses from 6,204 five years ago after discarding worn-out vehicles.

The transport department issued a tender for 1,880 buses four months ago but no bidder came forward.

“The procurement of these 1,880 buses has been scrapped for now as the companies are not interested. We tried to procure buses by removing the maintenance clause but that also did not work,” a Delhi government official said.

Buying buses, for which a global tender has been floated, could even take a year, so as a short-term measure, buses were being taken on rent but it would take two to three months, the official said.

Read | No odd-even formula on Sundays, Delhi govt to allow all cars on streets

At any given time, 90% of the fleet is available, but DTC plans to make almost all the buses -- 98% -- available by tweaking the maintenance clause.

DMRC has ordered 258 new coaches the delivery of which will begin from December 2016 through 2018. These coaches will be assembled at Bombardier’s facility in Savli, Gujarat.

“These coaches will be converted into 17 new eight-coach trains and also help 61 more six-coach trains convert into eight coach-formation,” a DMRC official said on condition of anonymity.

The coaches were ordered after a study but the traffic had grown rapidly so the company would be asked to rush the delivery. “Even then, it will take at least nine months to deliver the coaches,” the official said.

This year, metro, which has seen a steady rise in ridership, increased the number of daily trips by 176. DMRC operates 216 trains that make 2,900 trips a day. Four trains are sent for maintenance every day.

Though auto-rickshaws rank closely behind DTC and metro, drivers often refuse passengers. Delhi has 80,000 autos but 90% cannot go to NCR, forcing commuters to use cars or taxis.

There have been doubts about the road-rationing plan. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has said it is a temporary solution to check air pollution and if people are inconvenienced, it would be scrapped.

Read | Even-odd rule emergency step, will be stopped if problematic: Kejriwal