A high-level committee formed by the Union urban development ministry has termed an improvement in the bus service as the only option to decongest Delhi.
The committee recommended that an “Urban Transport Fund” be set up. Even a performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General has said that despite funds, the Delhi government has failed in purchasing new buses for the Delhi Transport Corporation.
The CAG has recommended the DTC to expedite replacement of outdated buses by timely procurement of new vehicles.
The urban transport fund should be used to purchase buses to increase the existing fleet to 11,000 buses.
The committee has recommended purchasing 2,000 buses in the short term and 4,000 buses in the long term, including replacing scrapped vehicles with new air-conditioned buses.
“There is high growth and population density in parts of outer Delhi but most of these colonies do not have a reliable and dedicated bus service. The same parts have unregulated Grameen Sewa and E-rickshaws that cause chaos. It is recommended that a reliable and adequate fleet of buses of smaller size, should be provided to deal with this in fringe areas,” the committee has recommended.
The panel also said bus routes should be subsidized, especially with a view to increase the usage by public and by implementing a robust bus transport system.
The number of commuters can increase from 4.5 million to 8 million a day in a few years’ time and incentives for bus users can be implemented, wherein usage of more than 25 days a month may provide 2-5 days of additional travel.
DTC Managing Director CR Garg
Why has the Delhi government failed to buy buses?
There is no doubt that our bus fleet is depleting. But it is a policy matter. Soon, we will have 3000 buses as the process to procure them is on.
How do you explain the consistent revenue loss?
It’s a public service and we should not expect profit from it. However, we should not be a burden on the exchequer and for that fare needs to be revised. Last time the fare structure was revised in November 2009. The cost of operation has doubled since and yet fares have not been raised. We are also exploring other modes of revenue through property development, etc.
What are you doing to reduce the number of breakdowns?
The reason behind frequent breakdowns is ageing bus fleet. Also, the buses are designed to operate at certain temperature thus, in summer more breakdowns are reported. Once we get new buses, the complaints will come down.