The shortage of buses in Delhi, combined with poor response from manufacturers to tenders floated by the Delhi Transport Corporation, has pushed DTC to explore the option of hiring midi buses — 30-32-seater buses — which are likely to be introduced on a pilot basis on existing and new routes, where the ridership is not very high.
The decision to go for smaller buses was taken as the acquisition of standard buses was taking longer than planned. According to DTC, it is looking at hiring these buses on a ‘per kilometre’ basis, as per the earlier system adopted for standard buses being operated by the corporation. Midi buses are slightly smaller than standard-size buses, but bigger than RTVs.
“We will hire midi buses on a pilot project basis to first assess the response. We have contacted a manufacturer, which will provide us with a prototype to try out on certain routes. We may use these buses for night services and give them to schools, where standard-size buses are not a viable option as the ridership is not very high,” a DTC official said.
The conductors and drivers will be provided by DTC, which is looking at hiring 100 such buses to begin with.
The Association of State Road Transport Undertaking (ASRTU) has been approached to determine a fare system for such buses. “These buses will operate on a ‘per kilometre’ basis and will ply on routes, where ridership is low. We are hoping to operate such buses in two months,” the official said.
DTC’s efforts to augment its fleet had failed to yield results. It had floated two tenders till date to replace its 1,725 old buses. The latest tender — taken out to procure 1,380 semi-low floor, non-AC buses and 345 low-floor, AC buses — too has yielded no results. The tender for low-floor buses under the JNNURM scheme got one bid from Tata Motors.
“There were several deviations from the tender conditions specified by us, so we abandoned the bid and will go for new tenders after May 16, when the code of conduct ends,” an official said.
For better response, DTC has, in fact, decided to opt for semi-low floor, non-AC buses as the high maintenance cost of low-floor buses is proving to be a deterrent for bus manufacturers to participate in the bidding process. Around 6,000 buses are operating in the city.