DTC buses new priority as Delhi govt shifts focus from last mile to wider reach
Delhi’s new transport minister Kailash Gahlot wants the focus on augmenting the city’s bus fleet and asked transport officials to begin work on fresh tenders for procurement of buses. This is a policy shift from his predecessor Satyendar Jaindelhi Updated: May 24, 2017 11:33 IST
Staring at a public bus system on the verge of a collapse, the Delhi government has decided to put the focus back on streamlining the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) operations.
Holding marathon meetings with agencies since Monday, Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot has made it clear that the focus should be on augmenting the city’s bus fleet and asked transport officials to begin work on fresh tenders for procurement of buses, sources said.
Speaking to HT, Gahlot, who succeeded Satyendar Jain as transport minister on May 19, said he would soon make an announcement on the steps being taken by him to improve the city’s transport system. “Buses are a priority and I have already had over three meetings with DTC, DIMTS and the transport department. I will make an announcement in the next two-three days on all the issues,” he said.
The move is aimed at reviving the DTC which is faced with the problem of an ageing bus fleet. While it is mandated to have 5,500 buses, the corporation has only about 3,780. This is going to drastically come down in the next five years as 3,093 of the buses are four-six years old, while the age of a low-floor bus is around 10 years.
Gahlot’s directions assume significance as almost all projects planned under former minister Satyendar Jain went to the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited. It made experts wonder if the DTC would be rendered defunct over the years. Earlier, Jain returned at least 11 proposals of the DTC for procuring new buses and instead pushed for introducing mini and midi buses to cater to area specific crowds.
Connectivity to rural Delhi
The minister has directed officials to come up with a plan to improve bus connectivity to rural and outer Delhi areas.
Gahlot wants buses to run at a frequency of at least 30 minutes in rural areas. On Monday, he held his first meeting with officials of the transport department, DTC and DIMTS asking them to submit an action plan at the earliest.
Residents of areas such as Narela, Najafgarh, Bijwasan and Kapashera face a harrowing time in commuting to and from other parts of the city as very few buses ply and last-mile connectivity is not adequate. The frequency of the few buses that ply in these areas ranges from 45 minutes to over one hour.
Gahlot asked officials to chalk out a plan where the bus frequency could be increased to 20-30 minutes. Besides, augmenting the public grievance system of transport utilities is another project that would be undertaken this year.
Being the MLA from Najafgarh, Gahlot, said poor transport service is the biggest complaint of residents from his constituency. “There is an urgent need to improve public transport and last-mile connectivity. At present, connectivity is so patchy that it alienates these areas from the rest of the city,” he had told HT earlier.
The transport department will now have to set fresh deadlines for construction of 11 depots. The projects have been languishing for over five years and are still far from over.
There are over 43 depots in Delhi where the total fleet of 57,00 buses is parked. “Regular status report of the depots has to be submitted from now,” another official said.