Two years later, AAP govt struggles to fix Delhi’s public transport system | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Two years later, AAP govt struggles to fix Delhi’s public transport system

Two years of AAP Updated: Mar 04, 2017 07:55 IST
Sweta Goswami
AAP govt

The bus stand in CR Park in New Delhi is used for all purposes other than waiting for buses.(Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times)

People come to bus stands in Chittaranjan Park for odd reasons — to wait for their cabs, to sleep on the benches or to find shelter from rain — few however come here to catch a bus.

Ambika Sen who lives near CR Park’s Market III says the two bus stops are empty most of the time. “That’s because buses rarely come here. Nobody has the time to wait for 20 minutes Be it the metro or cabs, there are quicker options available,” she said.

Residents also say that buses mostly use a different route via the main roads. “Maybe they do it because only few people use them now. The buses which do come to the stands operate only on two or three routes,” said Puneet Ray who lives near Market II.

Read: To boost public transport, Delhi govt offers 75% discount on bus travel

CR Park is just one of the hundreds of places in Delhi were finding a bus is like spotting a meteorite in the sky. Data with the transport department suggest that out of 674 bus routes, over 230 have become obsolete. “Bus route rationalisation, keeping in mind the accessibility to bus system within a colony, is very important. Many routes that originated from/passed through colonies have been withdrawn due to traffic/road conditions in colonies,” said Ashok Bhattacharjee, a former UTTIPEC director.

Bhattacharjee said reliability is another aspect that needs attention. “Information availability and bus to bus and bus to metro seamless interchange facility at all major junctions by relocating bus stops for reduced distance must be ensured,” he said.

The Delhi government wants to rationalise bus routes, however, it is yet to decide whether to do a fresh study or use the report prepared by Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) back in 2010-11.

In their first budget, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had promised to induct 10,000 more buses in five years while in the manifesto, the promise was to add 5,000 buses. In its second budget presented last year, the government said it would procure 1000 new low floor non-AC buses, 1000 under the cluster bus scheme and another 1000 under a new premium category during 2016-17.

HT special: Two years of AAP govt

However, not a single bus has been added to the low-floor fleet and only 215 have been added under the cluster scheme. The plan for premium buses did not materialize as the L-G asked the government to re-work on it.

“The first thing that needs to be done is to bring a transport policy for Delhi. At present, actions and projects are taken up on ad-hoc basis. A policy would allow the government to unclog Delhi and reduce air pollution in a scientific way,” said Nalin Sinha, transportation and road safety consultant.

Read: 10,000 cabs, 431 buses: New faces of Delhi’s air-conditioned public transport

He added that the government must allocate one per cent of its budget for promoting pedestrians and cyclists each year. The odd-even experiment showed that extra buses can solve the problem of public transport AAP government’s failure to procure buses can lead to big mess.

Data show that bus fleet has reduced by over 35% in six years. Delhi Transport Corporation, which used to operate 6204 buses in 2010-11, is operating only 4020 buses due to which ridership has also reduced considerably. Only 21.80% Delhi commutes by bus, but the share of buses among all registered vehicles in Delhi has gone down from 1.52% in 1980-81 to less than 0.36% now. The depleting fleet of DTC buses and its image of poor man’s service have kept commuters away.

Last-mile connectivity

The Capital has had a tumultuous affair with e-rickshaws over the past few years. The battery-operated rickshaws have emerged as a complementary mode of para-transit for last mile connectivity. What contributed the most to its unbridled growth is the absence of a policy and within a small time these have become a major cause of traffic congestion.

After temporary ban was enforced by Delhi High Court on battery-operated rickshaws, the Central government notified a policy in October 2010. Since then, the Delhi government has started registering e-rickshaws and issuing licences. However, these three-wheelers are far complying with the regulations.

Around a lakh e-rickshaws ply on city roads, but only around 21,000 are registered. Last year, the government promised to enhance subsidy for e-rickshaw drivers from ₹15,000 to ₹30,000. However, the scheme failed to take off and it was re-introduced last month.

Meanwhile, over 85,000 autos, comprising AAP’s biggest vote bank, continue to charge commuters arbitrarily. This year, the government has decided to issue 10,000 permits to auto drivers, the application process for which is underway.

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