With the Delhi government deciding not to implement the odd-even scheme, citing lack of a robust public transport system, the spotlight is once again on the Delhi Transport Corporation. The DTC has been unable to procure buses since 2009-10. As of now, there are close to 3,800 DTC buses and around 1,700 cluster buses.
The government’s decision comes after the NGT allowed the scheme but ruled out exemptions for two-wheelers and women commuters. As a result, officials said ensuring better public transport before implementing the scheme is easier said than done.
For the past seven years, the DTC faced difficulty in procuring new buses due to the annual maintenance clause — which made it mandatory for bus manufacturers to look after the upkeep and maintenance of buses after selling it to the Delhi government.
In June this year, the government scrapped the clause to attract more companies. “The DTC will now maintain the new buses and tenders will soon be ready. There shouldn’t be any roadblock in getting new buses now,” a senior transport department official said. As per affidavits submitted by the DTC to court, Delhi needs 11,000 new buses.
DTC buses see a daily ridership of about 35 lakh, while the Delhi Metro accommodates another 28 lakh passengers daily. There are 90,000 autos, with the government planning to add 10,000 more soon. However, the number of people that can be accommodated by the capital’s public transport system is minuscule as compared to the numbers that will be added to the roads without the exemptions.
For example, around 66 lakh two-wheelers are currently registered in the city. “Even if we take 50 per cent of two-wheelers off the roads, it means managing the load of 30 lakh two-wheelers each day. As of now, we don’t have as many buses to accommodate them,” Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said.
During the hearing, the NGT also pulled up the DTC for not being able to maintain its buses. “Your buses create so much noise on the road. They are a great nuisance. Most parts of your buses are either hanging in air or broken. Why don’t you take proper steps for their maintenance? Either your buses run empty or they are over-loaded,” NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The Tribunal, which also pulled up the DTC general manager, added, “Even among the inadequate fleet of buses, seven-eight per cent of vehicles were at the workshop every day”.