It was launched with much fanfare but is now dying a slow death. Delhi Tourism’s ‘Hop On Hop Off’ (HOHO) tourist bus facility — rolled out just ahead of Commonwealth Games — gets not more than 100-odd passengers on any working day. On weekends, the number barely touches 175. While HOHO buses are extremely popular in cities such as London, Paris, Rome, New York, Sydney and Singapore, the purple-coloured low-floor air-conditioned buses running on the Delhi streets are almost empty.
“We did a survey which says that tourists are not aware about the service. There is absolutely no publicity,” said an official of the company running the service. The service is operated by a private operator — a joint venture of Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions and Urban Mass Transit Company — for the tourism department. The operator says it was the responsibility of the tourism department to publicise the facility, which it failed to discharge.
Unlike international cities where information about HOHO services is available at every possible location that tourists visit, Delhi’s HOHO suffers due to lack of publicity. There is no information office, kiosk, billboard or even a banner about HOHO at Delhi’s international airport, railway stations, bus terminals and Metro stations. The lone information office at the arrival terminal at domestic airport, however, provides information about ‘Dilli Darshan’ buses (another tourist bus service)."It seems they (tourism department) do not have any sense of ownership for this service. We may be operating HOHO service but it is Delhi government’s project," said an official of the operating company.
The operator feels that the tourism department has not given any unique selling point to HOHO. “We had requested to be allowed to run our buses along the inner radial of Connaught Place but we were denied permission. We requested for small information kiosk close to Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Old Fort but the ASI norms come in our way. Companies like IRCTC and DMRC can’t sell our tickets unless tourism department signs a contract with them, which is not happening either,” the official added.
Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation managing director GG Saxena, however, blames Delhiites and tourists for the poor performance of HOHO service.
“It seems, Delhiites are not taking interest in this. They don’t want to visit Delhi’s monuments. Even the tourists prefer travelling by luxury buses and taxis. The service can only become popular by word of mouth,” Saxena said.
For lack of publicity at airport and Metro stations, Saxena said that the companies running airport and stations ask for huge money to give space or to publicise HOHO. “Now, we are working to make Delhi a world heritage city and involving heritage groups in it. We will utilise these buses then,” said Saxena.