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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

City bus service claims 1 crore ridership in a year

gurugram Updated: Oct 22, 2019 00:36 IST
Prayag Arora-Desai
Prayag Arora-Desai
Hindustantimes
         

In the one year since its launch, the Gurugaman bus service has recorded a total ridership of 1 crore passengers between September 2, 2018 and September 28, 2019, shows the data shared by the Gurugram Metropolitan City Bus Limited (GMCBL), which operates and maintains the intra-city bus

service.

Experts and officials said the figures indicate a substantial improvement in the service’s performance over the last six months, especially when compared to the underwhelming response it garnered when it was first launched.

Officials said that a cumulative passenger count of 1 crore is an important milestone for Gurugaman, which currently operates 12 routes in the city, with a 121-strong fleet. Official data also shows that the passenger count rose threefold between March and September of this year.

From a cumulative ridership of 26,23,746 passengers in March, the number rose to 51,902,945 in June, climbing further to touch 1,01,36,512 on September 28. “It took us only 14 weeks to jump from 50 lakh passengers in June 2019 to reach this impressive figure of one crore,” GMCBL public communication officer Vanita Akhaury said.

The uptick coincides with the introduction of new, better performing routes and several online and offline outreach programmes, which, officials said, played a big role in boosting ridership. “We have amped up efforts on social media platforms, set up outreach booths at important locations and conducted awareness drives (about routes) with various RWAs,” Akhaury added.

During this period, the bus service also added at least 20 new vehicles to its fleet, in addition to starting at least eight new routes and revising two older routes that were performing poorly.

Interestingly, some of the service’s better performing routes—IFFCO Chowk-Manesar (Route 134 B), Gurugram bus stand-Dundahera (Route 215 B) and Huda City Centre to Bhondsi (Route 111 B)—were all launched after March 2019. “The routes were launched after studying past performance and paying attention to commuter feedback, which is why they (the routes) are performing better,” Akhaury said.

Experts agreed that the trend is a positive one, and that the service’s route rationalisation seems to have paid off. “The numbers indicate an average passenger count of about 50,000 people per day. This is on par with other fledgling bus services in cities such as Bhubaneshwar and Indore. Hopefully, the Gurugaman passenger numbers will encourage the government to invest more in the city bus service,” city-based transportation expert Sarika Panda Bhatt said.

Bhatt, however, added that there is no way for experts to independently corroborate this data. “What we have are just selective numbers. To truly gauge Gurugaman’s performance, the data needs to be provided in open, raw format like the DMRC does, so that the authenticity of the numbers can be investigated,” she said.

Despite this improved performance, the GMCBL is still lagging behind on its declared objectives, which were to launch 200 CNG-operated, low-floor buses by March 2019, with the addition of another 300 in the following year. Officials had also committed to launching 25 routes by March 2020, but only 13 routes have been launched so far. GMCBL officials refused to comment, saying they were not authorised to discuss future plans.