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Bluelines will go, says Sheila

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said on Tuesday that Blueline buses would soon be phased out from the Capital’s roads, reports Amitabh Shukla.
Hindustan Times | By Amitabh Shukla
UPDATED ON JUL 04, 2007 01:39 AM IST

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said on Tuesday that Blueline buses would soon be phased out from the Capital’s roads.

The chief minister’s comments came after the death of an 11-year-old boy in an accident involving a bus on Sunday triggered a public outcry.

“The city-buses should run either through cooperatives or corporate houses. We know the buses are not being run properly,” Dikshit said.

She said a complete overhaul of the bus-based public transport system was being considered. A policy on Blueline buses to look into issues like drivers’ pay, working hours and stress was also being considered.

Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf said, “The working hours of the drivers will be regulated to check work fatigue. The practice of one bus competing with another to get passengers will also be curtailed.”

Reacting to Dikshit’s statement, Shyam Lal Gola of the Stage Carriage Permit Holders’ Association said, “This is undemocratic.”

He said the association would chalk out a strategy to deal with the issue whenever the phasing out process began.

Stung by public outcry over the death of a 11-year-old in a ghastly accident in Rajouri Garden on Sunday, the Delhi government on Tuesday promised to formulate a policy for Blueline buses within a fortnight.

Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf said, “The policy for Blueline buses would be comprehensive and govern their day-to-day functioning in the city.” He said the broad problem areas have been identified and would be addressed through the policy.

The main problem plaguing Blueline buses is the “contract system”. Put it simply, those who earn a permit to ply these buses sublets the contract to someone else for a monthly consideration. “Such a practice would be stopped forthwith as it encourages rough driving and competition on the roads,” said Yusuf.

The Transport Department has also taken into consideration the long work hours of Blueline bus drivers. Most drivers work for 12-14 hours at a stretch, putting at stake not only the safety of the passengers, but also other road-users.
“Our policy would address this issue, and there would be strict monitoring to ensure that a driver does not drive beyond the stipulated hours,” the minister added.

On Tuesday, the Transport Minister held a meeting with owners of Blueline buses, who promised to cooperate with the government to bring about order on the roads. “We will support the government on the initiatives to curb accidents and bring in accountability,” said Shyam Lal Gola of the Bus Owners’ Association.

Raising the issue of faulty speed governors, the bus owners said even after fixing the speed at the stipulated 40 kmph, the speed of buses had been increasing. The government promised to look into the matter and get standard speed governors from reputed companies.

The government also said it was mandatory for a bus driver to carry his driving licence. Photocopy of the licence will not suffice as it cannot be punched by the traffic inspectors.

And any unauthorised person found driving a bus will be prosecuted. The Traffic Police and the enforcement wing of the Transport Department would soon launch a drive to check reckless driving. It would also be mandatory for drivers and conductors to wear their uniform.

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