Delhi clears way for corporates into city bus services (Lead)

November 1st, 2010 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) Big corporate houses are set to hit the city roads this month-end as the Delhi government Monday cleared four more clusters, paving the way for over 900 new swanky buses to join the city transport system within six months.

A cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Monday approved the four clusters and authorised the transport department to take follow-up action. The cabinet last November awarded work for cluster 1, paving way for the deployment of 232 buses.

Bidding process for cluster 1, comprising 32 routes, has been completed and the highest bidder StarBus of Spicejet Group will induct 232 buses in a phased manner till April 11, 2011.

“We have cleared four more clusters in southeast and southwest Delhi and two on teh Ring Road. While cluster 2 will be operated by private company Indraprastha, a congregation of Blueline bus operators, three clusters will be operated by AB Spirits,” Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

As per the cluster plan, modelled on the lines of services in cities like London and Paris, around 600 routes in the city have been divided into 17 clusters.

As per the government plan, as many as 4,400 buses under 17 clusters will join the nearly 6,500 DTC buses in the capital. A government affidavit in the high court pointed out that 11,000 buses are needed to meet the public transport needs of Delhi.

With a decision of the Supreme Court in 2008 to phase out the privately-owned and run Blueline buses, blamed for hundreds of deaths on city roads, the Delhi government initiated steps to do away with these buses and introduce the cluster system, leading to the entry of big corporate houses in city transport system.

The official said the cluster system came up to fill the vacuum caused by the phasing out of Blueline buses that were introduced in 1992.

“The new scheme for operation of private stage carriage buses through corporate entities will replace the existing private stage carriage (Blueline) buses run by individual private operators. The corporatisation will also help in bringing discipline in private operators,” said a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office.

According to the cabinet decision Monday, there will be 232 private buses in cluster 2, 182 in cluster 3, 148 in cluster 4 and 120 in cluster 5.

Lovely said the buses will have Global Positioning System (GPS) installed on them. Steps are being taken to monitor these strictly by increasing the security deposit from Rs.10 lakh to Rs.1 crore. The buses will be paid Rs.31-34 per km.

Earlier, the Blueline buses were run by small operators, who in a bid to increase their income, would ask the drivers to go for more trips, resulting in violation of traffic norms and frequent accidents.

The Delhi government has decided not to let the remaining 800 Blueline buses ply beyond Dec 14, ending a service that was responsible for many hundred deaths on city roads.

The high court Monday refused to stay the Delhi government’s notification to phase out Blueline buses from the capital.

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