After a wait of eight years, Delhi’s crumbling bus fleet registered an increase of 25 as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal flagged off the first lot of new cluster buses. The buses are equipped with CCTVs, panic buttons, GPS, and hydraulic lifts for the differently abled. They will also have anti-vandalism seats.
The government also shared a timeline which said the city will get 1,625 more buses by May 2020.
According to official estimates, Delhi requires at least 11,000 buses to meet its current requirements. However, the fleet stands at around 5,200, with 3,600 coming under the DTC and 1,679 privately-owned orange cluster buses under the DIMTS.
“Today is a day of happiness for Delhiites, since it marks the beginning of the arrival of 3,000 new buses. There were a lot of difficulties, but I am happy they have been overcome. Finally, the delivery of buses has started and the first lot has hit the roads today,” Kejriwal said.
According to the government, the new buses will cater to rural Delhi which, it said, is facing a shortage. “Additional routes providing connectivity to Metro stations, hospitals and traffic interchange hubs at Inter State Bus Terminals (Kashmere Gate, Anand Vihar and Sarai Kale Khan) will be served by these buses,” a government statement said.
Procurement of buses has been an arduous process for the government, with failed bids and court cases hampering procurement.
A petition against procurement was filed when the government decided to bring in standard-floor buses, instead of low-floor ones. “We had to fight till the Supreme Court, but we are happy that finally the buses are here,” Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said.
Kejriwal not serious, BJP will increase buses: Tiwari
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said the first thing the party will do if it comes to power in the capital is increase the number of DTC buses and enable people to “enjoy free rides in the true sense”.
Tiwari said, “Kejriwal is not serious about implementing schemes giving free services to public. At present, the number of DTC buses plying on roads is around 3,000, whereas Delhi requires 20,000 new buses.”
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced free rides to women in DTC and cluster buses from October 29. On Tuesday, he flagged off a batch of 25 cluster buses.
“Kejriwal is fooling people by offering only 1,000 buses after four-and-half years… and only 25 have been made available to public,” Tiwari said.
“Even the buses plying on roads are in bad condition. Due to scarcity of buses, people are facing great difficulties. Announcing free rides in DTC buses under such circumstances is only to mislead people,” he said, adding: “If Kejriwal wants to provide free rides, he should increase the number of DTC buses and improve their condition.”