Cluster buses moving in slow lane

Cluster buses moving in slow lane

So far, only 150 cluster scheme buses have become  operational. DH file photo

The Capital's plan to boost the number of buses on its roads by 4,000 before next year-end is running alarmingly behind the schedule.

The “cluster scheme”—a partnership between private operators and the Delhi government announced in 2009—was meant to make things much easier for city’s harried commuters.

Under the scheme, which divided the buses under clusters for different routes, the number of buses would have increased significantly from the 7,000 now on the roads.

But deadline for rolling out the additional 4,000 buses appears unlikely to be met. Lack of bus depots is being blamed for the delay.

So far, only 150 cluster scheme buses have become operational against the planned 4,000 by 2012-end. Officials say the next lot of cluster buses will be on the roads only by March 2012.

The first batch of 17 buses was launched in May this year. By mid-November, the number increased to 150.

The scheme is part of the government project “Corporatisation of Private Stage Carriage Buses in Delhi”, meant to provide safe and comfortable public transport. The cluster bus service was seen as replacement for ‘killer’ Blueline buses, which have almost been phased out.

The plan was conceptualised by Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS), a joint venture company set up with equal equity of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC).

According to S N Sahai, MD and CEO, DIMTS, a major reasons for the delay in introducing more cluster buses is the lack of depots for the buses.

“The main problem lies with the availability of depots. Till now we had only two depots, Millenium and Kanjhawala. Now we have received clearance for depots at Sunahri Pullah and Kushak Nala. So we expect to gradually start rolling out buses by March,” said Sahai.

The upcoming depots of cluster buses would begin running out buses for clusters 3, 4 and 5.
About 500 buses will operate under the three clusters, according to the plan. The five operational clusters cater to areas in South, North and West Delhi.

In 2009, the Delhi government had divided nearly 650 bus routes across the city into 17 clusters, each comprising profitable and non-profitable routes, and decided to give each cluster to a private operator.

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