The Delhi government’s transport department has moved the Supreme Court for the procurement of 500 standard-floor buses equipped with hydraulic lifts for the differently abled, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said on Thursday.
In August, the top court had cleared the government’s proposal to buy 500 standard-floor buses with differently abled-friendly features after the Delhi High Court had stayed its bid to procure 1,000 standard-floor buses without hydraulic lifts.
However, despite the clearance, the transport department found itself in a fix as going ahead with the revised number would necessitate a reallocation of buses in 17 clusters, into which the city’s over 500 bus routes are divided.
The situation arose as the government had already floated price bids for 1,000 buses under the cluster scheme. Separate bids are invited for every cluster under the scheme, which was launched in 2011 by the Sheila Dikshit government.
“We have moved an application in the Supreme Court to give us permission to buy the remaining 500 buses. If we don’t get permission, then we will have to possibly go for a rearrangement. But if the court permits, then we will not have to do anything,” said Gahlot.
The installation of the lifts would cost Rs 5 lakh per bus, the government had told the SC.
Currently, 1,758 standard-floor buses are run under the cluster scheme, where private operators are paid on the basis of the number of kilometres travelled by the buses, while the revenue from the tickets goes to the government.
Around 3,900 semi-low floor and low-floor buses come under the fleet of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
But the bus fleet of the city falls way short of its requirement and the SC has set a deadline of December 31 for the augmentation of the numbers to 10,000.
Had the HC not stayed the proposal, around 251 of the 1,000 buses would have been inducted between September and November, an official said.
Around 11.67 lakh people avail the cluster bus services on a daily basis.
The operating costs of running them is around Rs 47.08 per km, while earnings are around Rs 29.5 per km. The deficit is borne by the government through a mechanism called viability gap funding.