Loss-making Delhi Transport Corporation needs fresh ideas to stay afloat
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses have a daily average ridership of about 35 lakh passengers — eight lakh more than Delhi Metro.
Yet DTC continues to be the biggest loss-making state road transport unit (SRTU) in India.
Reacting to a Union ministry of road transport and highways latest report on performance of SRTUs, experts called for an urgent need to restructure the DTC, which in 2015-16 registered losses to the tune of Rs 3,411 crore. The corporation had notched losses of Rs 2,917 crore in 2014-15.
The biggest reason for DTC’s recurring losses is debt. A whopping 57.48% of the corporation’s total costs goes in paying only the interests for the loans it had taken from the Delhi government. From Rs 2,802 crore in 2014-15, DTC’s interests rose to Rs 3,277 crore in 2015-16.
“Despite getting bailout packages from the government since 1996, DTC’s interests kept piling up. A lot of the problem will be sorted if an alternative to paying such huge interest is found. So, debt management requires immediate attention,” said Amit Bhatt, director of Integrated Urban Transport at the World Resources Institute.
Bhatt pointed to the need of introducing a scientific fare calculating system. Besides, there is no scientific route planning, which adds to DTC’s losses. A study to rationalise bus routes in Delhi was conducted in 2009-10, but no action was taken. The study has become obsolete now as roads have changed leaving the government in a fix.
Despite having its lowest ever fleet of 3,951 buses, the DTC has to spend as much as Rs 34,129 per bus on a daily basis. The second highest is a distant Rs 18,489 per bus per day which the State Express Transport Corporation of Tamil Nadu incurs.
Against this huge cost incurred, the DTC is able to earn only Rs 6,016 per bus. “CNG buses are extremely high on maintenance compared to diesel-run buses, which most of the other STU buses run on. The government can also explore auto LPG for its upcoming fleet as it is lower on maintenance,” said Suyash Gupta, director general, Indian Auto LPG Coalition (IAC).
Given that auto LPG emits up to 120 times lesser particulate emissions than diesel vehicles, 96% lesser nitrogen dioxides (NOx) than diesel and 68% lesser NOx than petrol, he added that it could be introduced along with CNG as an alternate green fuel.
DTC officials, however, blamed non-revision of fares as one of the reasons for poor performance of the company. “Fares have not changed since 2009 even when Metro fares, which was already more expensive, have been hiked twice,” said an official who is not authorised to speak to the media.
Right now, a ride in a non-AC bus can cost anywhere between Rs 5 and Rs 15. The AC buses charge fares between Rs 10 and Rs 25.
A renewed focus on buses instead of the capital intensive Metro could go a long way in serving the city’s growing transportation needs, the corporation suggested.