Delhi Tourism has zeroed in on school students to salvage its much-hyped Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus service that was launched with much fanfare just ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The showpiece bus has failed to become popular with the city's tourists.
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 Delhi streets remain almost empty.
Though 14 HOHO buses are available at a frequency of 30 minutes, the total number of tourists these buses ferry is hardly 120-130 on weekdays. The number improves slightly to above 200 on weekends.
"The HOHO bus service is doing average business and we have written to many schools in Delhi about their students using this facility," said Manish Chatrath, chairman, Delhi Tourism. "Special rates will be offered to school students. These buses will also give students an opportunity to learn about their own city and visit its important sites comfortably," he added.
Chatrath also feels school students are also likely to spread a good word about the HOHO buses when they travel in them. "They are likely to tell their parents, friends and relatives about how they enjoyed their ride in the HOHO bus. There are at least 10 lakh school students in the city and the word of mouth publicity will help bring more people to these buses," he said.
According to officials operating these buses, the plan is to offer half-day tours to schools at a special rate of Rs 6,000. Usually, adults are charged Rs 300 and children Rs 150.
The HOHO buses will now have a multilingual commentary system installed on each seat so that users can learn about the sites of Delhi in the language they prefer.
"We have installed a prototype in one bus and it would be installed in all our buses soon," said an official who didn't wish to be named. "The system is GPS-based and the commentary of a particular monument, market or area will start automatically as the bus reaches the point," he said.
The system will provide commentary in English, Hindi, three other Indian languages and three foreign languages.