Most of the private and school buses commissioned by the Delhi government to ferry passengers ran empty Friday. Not too many commuters seemed to know that these buses were being used for public transport while some drivers almost lost their way.
The tiny stickers and inconspicuous banners pasted on these buses went largely unnoticed by many passengers. “I didn’t know that school buses were going to be used for public transport. The bus numbers on them are hardly visible,” said Sushil Kumar, a commuter at the SJ Enclave Market bus stop.
Agreeing with him, the driver of a school bus said, “The banners and stickers on the windshield are too small, people are not able to read it. There should be large banners to inform people that this is not being used as a school bus but a public bus today”.
“At several stops, I shouted out the bus number and route from the window, but the commuters were confused and didn’t get on the bus,” said Umed Ali, a conductor.
Though a trial run had been held earlier, drivers of private buses struggled with the designated routes; some of them had to follow instructions by their passengers.
On bus no. 724, Surjeet Singh, a retired bank manager, had to gave directions to the driver at every turn. He was the sole passenger in the bus and had the conductor and a civil defence volunteer for company. “Proper implementation is really important for any policy… this driver would have lost his way had I not been on the bus,” said Singh.
Ram Swaroop, who drives a school bus, said only a few drivers had been trained about the various stops and routes and how to pick up and drop commuters. “I had some problems with the route… the conductor is guiding me. It took me a few trips to memorise the routes,” said Swaroop.
Though the government had said 3,000 extra buses will ply Friday, that didn’t happen, said officials of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
“Many of the private buses registered with us did not turn up. Only 1,221 of the 3,000 registered buses were sent out from our depots today,” said DTC public relations officer R S Minhas.
(The reporter is an intern with The Indian Express, with inputs from Sarah Hafeez)