Till a few months ago, Yogesh Saluja, an accountant with a private firm in Connaught Place, was planning to buy a car. He recently put the plan on the backburner after finding a comfortable public transport to commute between office and his Sheikh Sarai residence. The Delhi Transport Corporation’s cherry-coloured air-conditioned bus has given him a alternative to a car.
“I just can’t travel in the crowded Blueline buses when rushing to office in the morning or on my way back in the evening. I usually take a chartered bus but it has fixed timings and I miss it whenever I have to stay a little longer at work,” he said. Most days, he flagged down an auto rickshaw.
Saluja, like many other Delhiites, have found a comfortable and reasonably priced travelling option in the metro and AC buses, in a city where public transport meant rickety buses or rapacious autowallahs.
The recently introduced AC buses have proven to be a hit on most of the routes where they have been deployed. The converts also include people who usually drive cars and two-wheelers.
“Driving a car in Delhi’s traffic is not a pleasant experience. If we get more such buses all over Delhi, who needs to take the car out?” said Atul Singh, a Rohini resident. “The seats in these buses are very comfortable and you have air-conditioning. I would not mind taking my family out in an AC bus,” he said. “With such high fuel prices, more people would like to travel in these buses if the government provides enough of these on the roads.”
“I usually travel in auto rickshaws because the Blueline buses are not safe for women,” said Pragya Khurana. “The AC buses are not like that perhaps because they are not too crowded as they are a little more expensive than a non-AC bus,” she said. “However, compared to an auto rickshaw, it is much cheaper. In just Rs. 25, I get a more comfortable journey.”
The idea behind introducing AC buses was to wean away people from personal vehicles to public transport. “This is something we should have done long time ago. Only public transport systems like the metro or such buses can make people park their cars at home,” said a Delhi government official.
To encourage commuters to park their cars and ride a low floor bus, the Bus Rapid Transit authorities are planning parking slots along the BRT corridor.
The first parking slot, which would be able to accommodate up to 300 cars, is coming up near Ambedkar Nagar, one end of the BRT corridor. The parking lot would come up at the junction of Mehrauli Badarpur road and Shastri Marg. It would be built by covering three drains at a cost of Rs 6.5 crore.
DTC plans to get 25 AC buses in total by this year and 17 more such buses would be added to its fleet very soon. The next batch of buses is expected to arrive in July. The fare of the AC buses is between Rs 10 and Rs 25.
DTC is now planning to start more AC buses from Connaught Place. The routes include Uttam Nagar to Connaught Place, Vasant Vihar to Connaught Place and Tara Apartments to Connaught Place.