With two major transport policy interventions — odd-even and free rides for women — approaching, the Delhi government has its “fingers crossed” that its bus fleet will be able to absorb the potential rise in passenger volume, having missed the September deadline.
As part of the timeline to augment the cluster bus fleet, Delhi is supposed to get at least 320 new buses ahead of October 29, when the scheme to allow women to travel for free in buses will come into force. The odd-even policy will be enforced between November 4-15.
Of the 320 buses, 25 arrived in August, bringing the cluster bus fleet to 1,679. In September and October, 125 and 170 buses were to be added. However, in September, 25 buses arrived from the manufacturing facility.
Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said the buses are undergoing trials, during which features they are equipped with, such as CCTVs and lifts, are being monitored. “Another 30-40 buses are on their way to Delhi from the factory. We are hoping to stick to the timeline,” he said.
A transport department official said the government has its “fingers crossed” as registration of buses also take time.
The minister has returned from a three-day official trip to Brussels, Paris and Geneva, where he studied implementation of various car-restriction measures and a special transport card for tourists. “By virtue of an arrangement between many hotels and the Transport Authority in Geneva, as soon as guests check in, they are provided with a free Geneva Transport Card. With this, public transport in Geneva is free for the duration of their stay. In fact, our entire delegation used free public transport using the card,” Gahlot said.
Asked if the Delhi government plans to introduce such cards, Gahlot said: “We will surely explore these ideas.”
The trip was organised by the International Association of Public Transport, headquartered in Brussels. “All these cities are in the process of changing to e-buses and grappling with challenges of cost and charging infrastructure. We also plan to replace our entire fleet with electric ones in the long run,” Gahlot said.
Dialogue and Development Commission vice-chairman Jasmine Shah said tenders received towards procurement of 385 e-buses are being evaluated and their finalisation is expected soon. The government plans to induct 1,000 e-buses by next year.