Blueline buses to go off Delhi roads in December (Lead)

October 25th, 2010 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) Acting tough, the Delhi government Monday finally decided not to let the last of 2,400 Blueline buses to ply beyond Dec 14, ending a notorious service responsible for hundreds of deaths.

Transport Minister Arvind Singh Lovely said the people of Delhi cannot be allowed to be at the mercy of these privately run buses, which have earned notoriety for reckless driving.

Around 1,600 of these buses were banned during the Commonwealth Games this month but have since begun to return in parts of the city.

Lovely said 865 buses were allowed to ply on select routes excluding the heart of the city governed by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) from Oct 20. The NDMC is the smallest of three civic agencies in the capital.

“But the result was that it killed one person on the very first day,” he said despairingly. Lovely said the safety of people cannot be compromised any more.

“The government has evoked a legal provision according to which the Blueline buses will not ply on Delhi roads permanently… We cannot leave the people of Delhi at the mercy of these buses,” Lovely said.

According to Lovely, Dec 14 will be the last day for the Blueline buses to operate in Delhi.

“We have been approaching the Delhi High Court to extend the permit of Blueline buses (everytime they lapse). This time I have told the transport department not to do so. That will mean there won’t be any private buses in Delhi after Dec 14,” Lovely said.

He said the dominant feeling among the people was anti-Blueline. Ever since the buses were pulled out before the Commonwealth Games began Oct 3, accidents dipped by nearly 44 percent.

There would be no shortage of buses since the state-run Delhi Transport Corp (DTC) was buying a large number of buses and recruiting new drivers and conductors too.

The DTC’s feet is now 6,500 strong.

Lovely felt that this number would be enough since Delhi Metro also carried lakhs of people every day.

“We are not saying there may not be initial hiccups. But we appeal to people not to lose patience and cooperate with the government,” he said.

Furious Blueline bus operators massed outside Lovely’s residence following which security was stepped up for the minister, an official said.

The Delhi government had originally planned to phase out the Blueline buses before the Commonwealth Games. But the operators approached the high court, where the matter is pending.

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