Flagging off 100 new cluster buses at the Vidhan Sabha Sunday, Delhi Assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel hailed AAP minister Satyendar Jain as an incarnation of Lord Vishvakarma and said he “engineered the transport, health and PWD projects of Delhi just like Vishvakarma constructed the world as we know it today”.
This is the first such addition to the 6,000-strong bus fleet in five years, said officials. The new non-AC buses will increase the strength of the existing cluster bus fleet to 1,590. “This is the first time in a long while that buses have been added to the fleet. But we will not stop here. By the end of this financial year, we will add 3,000 more buses,” said Jain at the Vidhan Sabha premises, where a major segment of the new fleet was parked Sunday afternoon.
A government spokesperson said, “The most prominent features being sported by these cluster buses is a state-of-the-art GPS system along with the facility of onboard electronic ticketing. Besides conforming to the urban bus specifications and safety tests, the buses are fitted with 41 ‘anti-vandalism’ seats and have a better seating arrangement to ensure the comfort of passengers.”
Last year, the AAP government had proposed to procure 3,000 buses — 1,000 under the cluster scheme, 1,000 non-ac buses under the DTC and 1,000 premium buses under public-private partnership. The premium service, however, was shelved in June after the Lieutenant Governor withheld his approval to the scheme on the grounds that it allegedly “favoured a particular company”.
The buses, which will be divided along eight routes including Mayur Vihar Phase III to Mori Gate, Dwarka Metro Mor to Kamla Market, Rohini Sector 22 to Shivaji Stadium, New Seemapuri to Old Delhi railway station, will be operated by the transport department headed by Jain.
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“People have lost trust in the reliability of the DTC and cluster bus service, because buses do not turn up at terminals for long spans of time and there is no regularity. People end up opting for their two-wheelers and cars over an unreliable bus service. This is the city transport system’s biggest loss,” said Jain. To correct this, Jain said the government is going to divert buses from deserted routes to those frequented by people.