With a promise to deliver quality transport service that includes comfortable buses and well-trained drivers, the Delhi Government's Transport Department signed an agreement with a private company, Star Bus Services, here on Monday.

The agreement for this “first-of-its-kind public-private partnership” in Delhi necessitates the company to bring in 40 low-floors buses in October, ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and subsequently increase the number.“It is a unique model where the risk element is retained with the Government to provide a reliable transport system. The model, which is new to India, has already been implemented in Korea,” said State Transport Secretary Dr. R.K. Verma.

As per the agreement, Star Bus has been awarded the concession to run 250 buses in cluster one covering 32 routes. The city has been divided into 17 clusters where 4,400 modern buses with vehicle tracking and combined ticketing will be introduced gradually. The cluster model has been designed by the Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System (DIMTS) for phasing out Blueline buses.

The first batch of 40 low-floor buses to be supplied by Star Bus will be essentially deployed on South Delhi routes. The Government will retain the mandate to prescribe the service conditions, and the operators will be bound by strict rules and heavy penalties to perform and deliver.

Pointing out that the Government has “resource constraints”, Dr. Verma said the public-private partnership is an initiative to improve the quality of public transport system. The bus fleet that will be introduced on the city's roads under the agreement are equipped with the latest technology, including the Global Positioning System.

For its part, Star Bus will also invest in training the drivers. “The drivers will be better educated and trained than the lot currently employed,” said Star Bus chairman Ajay Singh.

The company said it intends to invest over Rs.500 crore over the next three years to participate in the PPP in public transport across the country. As per the model, the Government would control bus fares while the private operator will be given a fixed amount of Rs.47.5 per km.

The Delhi Transport Corporation will run 60 per cent low-floor buses in each cluster. The buses will be equipped with GPS tracking and monitoring and will provide real time information to the commuters though the Internet and SMS.

More In: Delhi