Delhi government revives app-based private bus scheme
The Delhi government has revived its plan to introduce a mobile-application based air-conditioned bus service that will aim to attract office-goers who use their private vehicles for daily commute.
Under the scheme, the service will be run by private operators just like app-based cab aggregators. The tickets or bookings for this service will be available only online through mobile applications or a website.
As per the draft scheme prepared this year, buses are going to be under the premium segment having features like Wi-Fi, entertainment system, reclining seats, premium upholstery, GPS, CCTV cameras and panic buttons.
This is not the first time that the government has talked about introduction of such a scheme. The Delhi government had first given its nod for a ‘Premium Bus’ scheme back in May, 2016. However, the proposal was then struck down by the then Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung for not taking his approval. In 2017 and 2018, the government again worked on the plan but it fizzled out because of permit issues.
A senior government official said rolling out the scheme has become easier after amendments were made to the Motor Vehicles Act. They said the scheme is now being revived on the directions of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. “The scheme is proposed under sub-section (3) of Section 67 of the MV Act, which empowers the state government to make schemes for transportation of goods and passengers and issue licenses for the promotion of development and efficiency in transportation for last mile connectivity, rural transport, reducing traffic congestion, improving urban transport and safety of road users, etc,” the official said.
Another official said that under these clauses, the operators may not even require permits. “Further, in accordance with clause (q) of sub-section (3) of the Section 66 of the MV Act, any transport vehicle having been issued such a licence under this scheme shall be exempted from the necessity of permits,” the official said.
To ensure passengers are not overcharged, the State Transport Authority will fix the maximum and minimum fares of the service. “Operators will have to fix the rates based on the distance travelled and payment will be accepted only through digital modes. The buses will be divided in clusters and each cluster will have at least 100 buses pressed in service during peak hours,” the draft scheme read.
Officials said that any operator providing such service at present is illegal. “Operators like Shuttl, ZipGo and Ola Shuttle which provide app-based buses are plying with contract carriage buses. Once the scheme is notified, these services could be regularised,” another official said.
Delhi at present had a total of 5,766 DTC and cluster buses.
Experts welcomed the scheme saying it would serve Delhi’s “micro transit” needs.
“The clientele of such bus service is very different as it caters mostly to those who use their private cars, cabs or car pool to work. So, ensuring availability of seats and maintaining high
quality will be important. Also, the government has to ensure that all rides are pre-booked,” said Amit Bhatt, director of integrated transport at the non-profit World Resources Institute (WRI) India.