When will the DTC arrive?

TRANSPORT WORRY

When will the  DTC arrive?

At about 8.30 pm, if a girl waits at Pragati Vihar (near Lodhi Road) bus stop for a bus to turn up, it is routine for her to be ogled at, by passers by. Even though located in prime South Delhi, Pragati Vihar bus stop can be deserted even at that not-so-late hour. And the wait for Route No. 450 can seem unending.

It makes one wonder about the fleet of low floor buses (both AC and non-AC) that were rolled out on Delhi roads sometime back. Back in 2007 the first batch of 20 low-floor buses was introduced, followed by the first batch of five AC buses in July 2008.

Today, despite that DTC has a fleet of both AC and non-AC low-floor plus standard buses numbering more than 6000, the commuters are still a harassed lot, given their endless wait at stops. This is the state of the oldest mode of public transport in Delhi, which laughingly, is attempting to give the Metro a run for its money.

The advantage that DTC has and which Metro never will is that it connects even the remotest parts of the City. But the performance, apart from that of Mudrikas (which ply on Ring Road) is abysmal.

Travelling regularly from Patparganj, in East Delhi to Modi Mill near Okhla in South East, Binisha Malik, a 23-year old communication consultant, takes Route 534. “It is very crowded because this bus comes every 25 minutes in the mornings. Evenings are worse as I have to wait for 45 minutes plus,” she says.

Despite a rather efficient service like the Metro, people like Binisha prefer buses over Metro because the latter is economical. “A ticket worth Rs 5 or 10 enables you to travel for a sizeable distance so it is definitely easier on the pocket as compared to the Metro which charges a minimum of Rs 8 for even  distances between two stations,” shares Trisha Saikia, a young marketing professional.

Besides, “not all places in the City are connected by the Metro and at times it takes longer to reach a particular destination through Metro than via road. But, the benefit of a bus is only when it comes in time,” she adds narrating that once she set out for Gurgaon from her office in Bhikaji Cama Place she ended up waiting for the inter-state bus for close to an hour.

“I ultimately took an auto to reach INA Metro station and then boarded a Metro for Gurgaon,” she states adding, “Even to reach centrally located areas like Rajiv Chowk, one has to wait for long hours for a bus. It is sheer wastage of time!”

It is not just the frequency but also the unpredictability that compounds travel woes. Say if Route No. 623 has arrived at a particular stop after 20 minutes, the crowd at the stop rushes to board not knowing when the next 623 may follow. Whereas there are times when two more buses of the same route (ie. 623), follow after a gap of about 5 minutes each and are plying virtually vacant. Which translates into not just wastage of fuel but also manpower and resource. Incidentally, the arrival of three buses of the same route at the same hour on the same day is no guarantee that the next day will be similar! 

A convenient reason for the absence of low-floor AC buses could be rising temperatures since the transport department officials have reported that at least 500 buses have broken down in May alone. That’s one-fifth of the fleet down and it does add up to a sizeable amount.

Isn’t it time someone thought it necessary to streamline the DTC?

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