Staff Reporter

While police are checking safety in Blueline buses, they are allowing chartered, tourist and school buses to go scot-free

NEW DELHI: The Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT), an autonomous organisation in the field of road transport and automotive sector, conducted a weeklong survey in the Capital recently to examine the operation of buses -- both stage and contract carriages -- in relation to compliance of safety and reliability standards in providing services to commuters.

Releasing the findings this past weekend, IFTRT noted that Delhi has on its roads 11,200 CNG buses; 5,375 mini buses; 4,000 diesel-run inter-State permit buses and 2,500 diesel-run all-India tourist permit buses. Barring most of the all-India tourist permit buses and around 1,000 diesel-run inter-State permit buses, the remaining 19,375 buses operating on Delhi roads cater to stage carriage operations like the Delhi Transport Corporation, Blueline and Rural Transport Vehicle (RTV), and chartered buses for staff, schools and local tourists on a regular basis.

The team found that provisions of the Central Motor Vehicles Act and Rules and related permit conditions were flouted with impunity by all operators, whether Government-owned or private. While the Transport Department and the traffic police were checking safety equipment in Blueline buses, it was allowing chartered, tourist and school buses to go scot-free, the survey pointed out.

According to the findings, the Blueline, chartered, school and tourist bus operators “have jeopardised the safety of the commuting public as 80 to 90 per cent of them have changed their existing standard fitted 9x20 size tyres to bigger 10x20 size tyre (old, retread truck tyres) because they cost less in comparison to standard bus tyres”.

Another worrisome fact that came to light was that almost 50 per cent of private operators have fitted truck leaf springs on two axels of these buses. “This has led to the footboard of these buses getting higher by a couple of inches from the ground level. This causes inconvenience while boarding and is the single biggest factor for fatalities or injuries to bus passengers,” said the survey.

Stating that the special enforcement drive of the traffic police was mainly focused on Blueline buses in order to check their safety equipment and other mechanical deficiencies, IFTRT claimed chartered buses, school hired buses and tourist buses were going scot-free.

Pointing out that Delhi has 4,500 CNG-run RTVs, IFTRT said almost 3,000 have got their body fabricated from non-standard road-side body fabricators. “This has provided RTVs with more passengers sitting and standing capacity and saving in body fabrication cost.”

Technically, this non-standard fabrication raises the centre of gravity, reduces aerodynamics and increases in over-hang to non-conforming limits, resulting in serious imbalance in the movement of the vehicle at speeds of over 50 km per hour, said IFTRT. “This has been the basic reason for frequent overturning of RTVs on roads.” The IFTRT findings point out that the Delhi urban bus transport system needs a major shake-up rather than diverting attention towards the Blueline buses.