Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

Chinese company in the race to run buses

We intend to bring new buses on all the 657 routes: Haroon Yusuf

Number of DTC buses likely to go up to 5,000 by next year

NEW DELHI: With over 60 cooperatives and companies – including a foreign player -- coming forward to apply for running of private buses here in response to a notice inviting Expression of Interest issued by the Delhi Government’s Transport Department, the stage has been set for gradual phasing out of Blueline buses that have spelt death on the Capital’s roads.

Among the major players who have expressed interest in operating buses in Delhi are a Chinese company and a business house from Bangalore. However, some major Indian bus manufacturers who had participated in the pre-EOI discussions have not applied for any of the city routes.

According to Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf, “the response from the private players towards the notice has made the task of phasing out Bluelines buses that much easier”.

The Minister said work on preparation of plans for bringing in the big private players – who would be operating a minimum of 100 buses each – has been in progress and it would take about eight weeks to finalise the details. “We intend to bring new buses on all the 657 routes,” he added.

Following a huge public outcry over accidents involving Blueline buses, the Transport Department had in the beginning of July issued the notice inviting applications from big players for operation of stage carriage buses. Thereafter on July 28, a pre-EOI meeting was organised in which various prospective applicants participated.

The flow of applications thereafter was quite encouraging, said a senior official, adding that many of the 60-odd applicants had showed an inclination for operating over 500 and even over 1,000 buses. “The response is good enough to meet our needs,” he said.

The Delhi Transport Corporation operates about 3,100 buses in the Capital, while about 3,900 are run by private operators as Bluelines. In addition, 1,400 mini buses or RTV buses also operate as stage carriages. While the number of DTC buses is expected to go up to 5,000 by next year, the Delhi Government intends to bring in an equal number of private buses for city operations through the corporate and cooperative route.

There being 657 routes in all on which at least 25 buses each are required to ensure an orderly and well-coordinated public transport system, the official said, bulk permits would be granted to applicants after finalisation of the scheme to operate on identified routes. The overall fleet strength of private buses and DTC fleet will be restricted in the proportion of 50:50 and the existing private stage carriage Blueline buses would be phased out gradually in such a manner as to synchronise with the induction of the new fleet of buses.