Started with fanfare, the transport department’s ambitious bus cluster scheme has failed to pick up pace.
Nine months after the first fleet of 50-odd buses were rolled out on three routes, the number of orange-coloured cluster buses has not even touched 200 so far. While sources said that the operators should have so far deployed at least 1,000 buses, lack of space to build bus depots — where these buses could be parked and maintained — have prevented the operators to bring in more buses.
Launched in May 2011, cluster 1 so far has just about 100 buses that ply on five different routes connecting south Delhi with central and east Delhi. Cluster 3, 4 and 5 combined have 98 buses that run on Teevra Mudrika and three more routes.
Under the cluster scheme, the department has divided 657 bus routes under 17 clusters and each cluster of routes is being given to a private company to run buses.
With 11,000 buses required to cater to the increasing population of Delhi, the private companies are required to run 60% buses (6,600) on these routes while the state-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) will run 4,400.
Though the transport department has allocated five clusters to private companies — which are collectively required to run about 2,000 buses on 138 routes — only 10 routes with 194 buses have so far become operational.
“The government had promised to give us land to set up our depots. It has failed on its commitment. We are ready to bring buses but we don’t have enough space to park them,” said an official of one of the corporates, requesting anonymity.
The government, sources said, needs to identify land and set up at least 70 depots to cater to 6,600 buses. It has, however, made only two depots operational so far — one at Millennium Park depot and another at Kanjhawala in west Delhi.
“The work is going on in full swing at three more depots —Kushak Nullah and Sunehri Bagh Nullah near Lodi Road and central workshop at Banda Bahadur Marg,” a official associated with the cluster buses project said.