When Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) placed the order for 2500 low-floor buses exactly one year ago, in September last year, it promised to strengthen public transport in Delhi within six months.
DTC's list of promises also included a more comfortable and cooler ride for Delhiites during the 2009 summer. But the city had to do with a small fleet of just 25 air-conditioned buses, which the DTC had bought in July 2008.
The residents of Dwarka and Vasant Kunj, the two most poorly-connected residential colonies of Delhi, are still waiting for new buses to solve their commuting problem.
But the long wait for a new fleet of low-floor buses is finally over. The first batch of ten low floor buses, including five air-conditioned buses, reached Delhi on Thursday morning.
Manufactured by Tata Motors, the buses were despatched from Tata's manufacturing facility in Lucknow, on Wednesday. Senior DTC officials said at least 140 more buses are expected to reach Delhi by the end of this month.
“We had not anticipated any delay when the order was placed last year. To ensure that the buses are supplied at the earliest, 35 per cent of the order was transferred to Ashok Leyland despite Tata Motors being the lowest bidder. It got delayed due to reasons beyond our control," a senior DTC official said.
According to officials, the two manufacturing companies took a lot of time in setting up their facilities. The clearance of the prototype also took time. A fire in a low-floor bus, in March this year, made matters worse.
The Delhi government ordered stringent checks on the prototype and changes in the model to ensure that such incidents were not repeated.
A senior DTC official said there would now be a regular supply of buses from the two manufacturing companies.