In a bid to provide a comfortable ride to those who commute by public transport to work, especially during the odd-even scheme, Transport Minister Gopal Rai Friday announced that the government will introduce app-based AC buses under an aggregator scheme.
The decision was approved by the cabinet Friday, and the registration of private buses under the scheme will start on June 1. The government will come up with a similar aggregator scheme for taxis, said Rai.
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“We are often asked what alternative we can give to those who leave their cars behind. The last time (first phase of odd-even), car owners used DTC buses to travel but many have found it difficult to do that in this heat. The Metro has also seen increased rush. Keeping that in mind, we will launch app-based premium AC bus services in which two CCTV cameras, WiFi, GPS, fire-extinguishers and first-aid kits will be mandatory,” said Rai.
He added that bookings of seats on these buses will be made through an app, and the list of passengers will be frozen five minutes before the bus departs.
“These buses will not turn into Blueline buses because they would compete to pick up passengers on the streets. These buses will accept only app-based bookings, and there will be no standing passengers,” said Rai.
“The fares of premium buses shall not be regulated or subsidised by the government and may, therefore, be market-determined. However, if and when the need arises, the government may prescribe upper limit of fare and/or take steps to check predatory pricing,” said the policy released by the government.
The policy entails that fares would be collected only through electronic payment and not cash.
To ensure women’s safety, Rai said the app that the passengers use for bookings will also have a panic button that can be used in case of an emergency.
“The passenger aggregator may determine the routes on which the premium buses shall ply from time-to-time, and shall specify such routes along with the time schedule of each trip on its web-based application,” stated the policy.
Aggregators of private CNG contract carriers or stage carriers will have to furnish bank guarantees of Rs 25 lakh for 100 buses, Rs 50 lakh for more than 100 buses and Rs 1 crore for more than 500 buses. Violations such as ferrying unauthorised passengers will attract a penalty of Rs 2,500, added the policy.
The conditions also state that after accepting bookings, the bus service cannot be cancelled, except for breakdowns or force majeure (unavoidable cause), in which case twice the fare amount will have to be refunded to the passenger within 24 hours of booking. “In the event such service is cancelled for reasons other than breakdown or force majeure, the passenger aggregator shall, within 24 hours of cancellation of that service, pay to the affected passengers an amount equal to 10 times that received from such passengers,” stated the policy.
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