Delhi

HOHO service struggles to get passengers even in tourist season

Number of buses in fleet reduced from 15 to just five; inadequate frequency and lack of infrastructure at pick-up points hurting the service

Seventeen-year-old Shruti Shreya was on a visit to Delhi with her father. A resident of Dhanbad in Jharkhand, Shreya boarded the Delhi Tourism’s HOHO bus no.3 for the second time this week, hoping to complete Delhi Darshan.

“We took the bus yesterday also, but could not cover all the spots as it was impossible to finish it in a day,” she said as she took a seat in a nearly empty bus heading towards Nehru Museum.

Shreya is among the few tourists who opt to tour Delhi in one of the Hop on Hop off (HOHO) buses.

The HOHO buses were started by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) during the Common Wealth Games in 2010. The tickets are priced at ₹499 for a single-day Delhi tour. It covers 21 locations across the city. However, the HOHO bus service is struggling to get passengers in its ninth year of operation.

Currently, the number of buses in operation has been reduced to five while the fleet strength was 15 when the service was started.

Pricing problem

The DTTDC also conducts half-day tours for half the price. Pricing is an issue as private tour companies conduct full-day tours in AC Volvo buses for approximately ₹300. However, the private option does not provide the passengers with the flexibility offered by HOHO.

While the HOHO buses are in good condition, inadequate frequency and lack of infrastructure at pick-up points is hurting the service.

Jagannath Sahni, 70, who had travelled all the way from Maharashtra to visit Delhi spent a large portion of the time waiting for the bus, sitting on the ground in the sweltering heat along with his two friends.

Claiming that the service is overpriced, he said: “The price needs to be reduced significantly if they want to increase the popularity of HOHO buses.”

The bus operates on the Hop on Hop off Model i.e. any passenger can catch a bus from the designated pick-up point after an interval of 45 minutes.

However, upon receiving a time schedule detailing the route and timings of each bus, at the start of her journey, Ms. Shreya expressed dissatisfaction. “It is a good service but the time provided is not adequate to see all the places. Forty-five minutes is too less a time to cover some of the spots. I think the interval between the two buses should be modified to suit different locations,” she said.

“We were only able to cover the first floor of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and even dropped the idea of visiting the planetarium as we were running out of time,” Ms. Shreya added.

Some of them, however, had a different view on the subject, “I really like the 45-minute gap, which is perfect for exploring a place and boarding the next bus,” said Prithvi Raj, 26, who found about the bus service online.

Running commentary

The HOHO service also employs a number of ‘guest relations executives’ who give a running commentary on tourist spots throughout the journey. However, the commentary falls short in its reach to the passengers since it is only in two languages — English and Hindi — and the guest relations executives often switch between the two languages depending on the demography of passengers.

The HOHO service has, however, failed to lure foreign tourists. Most of the passengers are Indians, said Purti Tanwar, a guest relations executive.

The bus stops at the designated HOHO bus service road sign, to drop off and collect passengers. But, at a number of primary locations, including India Gate, there is no proper signage, claimed a passenger who did not wish to be named.

Another complaint made by the passengers pertained to inadequate notification. “We missed the last bus yesterday. They should inform passengers before the last bus leaves,” said Ms. Shreya, as she got off at Sarojni Nagar Market.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:25:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/hoho-service-struggles-to-get-passengers-even-in-tourist-season/article28237487.ece

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