Daily ridership in Delhi’s buses down 59% since March

Updated on Aug 31, 2020 02:50 AM IST

Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot said there has been “a massive decline” in ridership in the government’s DTC and cluster buses despite there being a “huge demand” due to the Delhi Metro being shut for over five months.

People wearing facemasks seen inside DTC bus at AIIMS in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
People wearing facemasks seen inside DTC bus at AIIMS in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The daily ridership in state-run buses in the national Capital has declined by nearly 59% since March this year and the ticket earnings of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) have dropped by 73%, data shared by the city administration showed.

Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot said there has been “a massive decline” in ridership in the government’s DTC and cluster buses despite there being a “huge demand” due to the Delhi Metro being shut for over five months.

“Not just that, our transport utilities continue to face losses despite Delhi now having the biggest fleet of buses in 10 years. This is because of the existing cap of 20 passengers per bus as advised by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) for maintaining social distance inside buses,” Gahlot said.

Data showed that in March this year, DTC and cluster buses together carried over 3.2 million passengers every day, which went down to 1.3 million in August, largely due to the 20-passenger limit.

Similarly, the earnings through tickets for the DTC dropped by almost Rs 167 crore during the months of March, April, May and June when compared to the same period in the year 2019. The loss was highest in May when DTC’s ticket revenue dropped to just Rs 1.91 crore from Rs 56.92 crore earned in the same month last year.

The combined DTC and cluster bus fleet in Delhi currently stands at over 6,100 - the highest in nearly a decade. It was during the 2010 Commonwealth Games that Delhi had last operated around 6,000 buses.

The transport minister, however, said the situation is likely to improve once the Delhi Metro opens from September 7 based on the Unlock 4 guidelines issued by the Central government on Saturday.

“We hope the problem of crowding at bus stops will be resolved to some extent with the opening of the Delhi Metro. Tomorrow (Monday), there is a high-level meeting to discuss how the Unlock 4 guidelines will be enforced in Delhi. It is likely that all Metro stations will not be opened to manage the crowds and ensure proper social distancing and sanitisation,” Gahlot said.

After being shut for 55 days since March due to the nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), DTC and cluster buses resumed services from May 19. But with the Delhi Metro still being shut, buses have been the lone mass transit option available for a city of nearly 20 million people. The consequence has been long waiting times at bus stops, where people are hardly able to keep the suggested six feet distance from one another.

Gahlot said that a proposal to run DTC and cluster buses to full capacity was placed before the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on August 19, but it was rejected.

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    Sweta Goswami writes on urban development, transport, energy and social welfare in Delhi. She prefers to be called a storyteller and has given voice to several human interest stories. She is currently cutting her teeth on multimedia storytelling.

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