By Nivedita Singh
New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) It was in July 1998 that the Supreme Court directed the Delhi government to augment its fleet of buses to 10,000 by April 2001, but over 20 years and six governments later, the total buses in the Delhi Trasport Corporation (DTC) cluster fleet stands at 5,576.
According to the government data, till March 2019, the total functional buses in Delhi were 5,576 — 3,897 DTC buses and 1,679 cluster buses. The orange buses are operated under the cluster scheme, which was introduced in 2011 to replace the erstwhile blue line buses.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), however, is aiming to roll out about 4,000 more buses to make the count cross 9,500 by May 2020 — although its tenure is ending in February.
Of the 4,000 new buses to be added, 1,000 will be standard floor cluster buses and 1,000 will be low floor cluster buses.
Apart from clusters, 1,000 CNG low floor buses by DTC and 1,000 electric buses will also be added.
In its manifesto in 2015 Assembly polls, the AAP said it will expand the bus services in the city.
“We will expand bus services in the city on a massive scale, adding at least 5,000 new buses to the city fleet in five years. This will reduce the cost of transportation and pollution in the city,” party’s manifesto read.
In February 2015, Arvind Kejriwal became the Chief Minister when the AAP swept the elections and bagged 67 of the 70 seats. But the promise to give 5,000 new buses could not be fulfilled in 4.5 years.
The Kejriwal government has blamed non-availability of land for new depots and repeated failure of tenders issued by the DTC for procurement of buses.
In July 2018, the Delhi government filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court saying the city is far from its total required 11,000 buses having just 5,554 operational buses.
It said there were 1,275 low floor AC buses, 2,506 low floor non-AC buses, 101 green standard floor non-AC buses and 1,672 cluster buses.
The data from the Transport Department claimed that there are 58 bus depots in the city till March, having a capacity to park 5,561 buses and are fully utilized.
“By March 2020, the department is aiming to increase the number of depots in the city to 70 having a capacity to park 9,500 buses,” a Transport Department official said.
Although the data from the Transport Department says the total buses by March were 5,567 in the city, another data released by the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi earlier this year claimed that there are 5,884 buses functional.
It stated that there were 5,847 buses functional in Delhi in 2013-14, which went up to 6,118 in 2014-15. The number reduced to 5,659 in 2015-16 and in the next year it went up to 5,826 buses. The number fell to 5,884 in 2017-18 and remained constant for the last financial year 2018-19.
It claimed that the city will get additional 3,000 buses by the next year and the count will be 8,884 functional buses.
“Every year, a number of buses are scrapped when they were not found fit for usage, so the number may vary from time to time,” the Transport Department official added.
The average daily ridership for DTC buses was 33 lakh between 2018-19, while that of cluster buses was 12.24 lakh.
After Delhi Metro, the public buses are the most used public transport in the city. Collectively, the average daily ridership of the two buses is more than that of the Delhi Metro — 22.85 lakh.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)