The average breakdown rate is 3.8 buses per 10,000 kilometres, says DTC

With the air-conditioned buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) battling mechanical snag and the Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit Systems (DIMTS) failing to roll out AC buses under the cluster scheme till date, the idea of promoting public transport in the city seems to be falling apart once again.

While the DTC buses have lost the trust of commuters that it earned about four years ago when the low-floor buses were added to the fleet, DIMTS — operators of Delhi transit buses — has failed to roll out even a single AC bus since the service was launched around three years ago.

As per the cluster scheme, which was mooted to replace the killer Blue Line buses, at least 20 per cent of the around 5,500 cluster buses were to be air-conditioned. Till now, 1,140 buses have been rolled out across eight clusters, but DIMTS officials said they have not been able to provide AC buses due to “non-availability of buses in the market”.

“Buses with the required specifications for cluster scheme are not available in the market. We have been trying to procure such buses. The idea of rolling out AC buses has not been dropped, but it seems unlikely that AC buses would be rolled out this summer,” a DIMTS spokesperson said.

Officials in the transport department, however, said the cluster owners have refrained from pressing AC buses in the service due to the cost involved in procuring the buses.

“Initially, all cluster buses were required to be low floor. But rules were changed later and semi-low-floor buses are being rolled out under the cluster scheme as they are substantially cheaper,” said an official.

Presently, the DTC operates 1,275 air-conditioned low-floor buses. While the public transport plans to launch 300 more AC buses, repeated breakdowns due to poor maintenance and failure of air-conditioners have become synonymous with the luxury buses operating on different routes across the city.

“Drivers also turn off the air-conditioning system when the buses are either crowded or are scaling a flyover. At times it becomes difficult even to breathe inside the buses. Complaints to drivers and the conductors bear no fruit as they say the complaints need to be registered with the DTC as they have no control over maintenance,” said Jagdish, a regular bus commuter who works in Central Delhi.

While the DTC officials admit lack of adequate maintenance of buses, they insist that heavy penalty was being levied against the service providers.

“The breakdown rates of all types of buses witness a jump during summers. The average breakdown rate of DTC buses is 3.8 buses per 10,000 kilometres, which is high when compared to the international average. But we are trying to fix the problem,” said DTC spokesperson R. S. Minhas.

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