No new AC buses for Delhi this summer

Pvt operators blame manufacturers

Pvt operators blame manufacturers

Delhi’s wait for the purple air-conditioned buses will get longer, as private operators have indicated to a nodal agency that manufacturers’ inability to give them a fresh fleet will prevent them from bringing in new vehicles this summer.

Around 200 AC buses could have augmented the Delhi Transport Corporation’s fleet of over 1,000 similar vehicles, but this delay may leave commuters in some discomfort in the harsh summer. 

“Just like the DTC’s red AC buses, cluster operators were supposed to bring in purple AC buses under their arrangement with the transport department,” said a transport department. 

According to sources, eight cluster bus operators were expected to bring in semi-low floor AC buses this summer.

“They have now indicated that the bus manufacturers are unable to design CNG-run AC buses that are semi-low floor,” said a transport department official.

Cost implications

Due to cost implications and poor supply chain, the private operators do not want to invest in low floor buses – like the red DTC buses – and are waiting for semi-low floor models from manufacturers, said the official. 

The delay means bad news for Delhi commuters who often complain of ineffective cooling and frequent snags in DTC AC buses. 

Himanshu, an engineering student at Jamia Millia Islamia, said: “I was expecting to travel in the private operators’ AC buses. They would have been better maintained than the DTC fleet. May be, we will have to wait for next year. Travel in an AC bus costs a little extra but it gives the feel of being in a comfortable Metro.” 

As per the arrangement with the Delhi government, eight of the nine functional private cluster operators are under contractual obligation to run AC buses, which need to form at least 20 percent of the their total fleet strength. 

Apart from cluster number one, the other eight operators – with a fleet of over 1,100 – are bound by the arrangement with the government to run AC buses, said an official. The state-run DTC’s fleet, acquired ahead of the Commonwealth Games, is aging and is plagued by frequent breakdowns. About 1,000 of the DTC’s 5,000-strong fleet are red AC buses. 

A DTC official has admitted that due to break downs the corporation’s operating fleet has came down to 4,000. 

“Two private bus manufacturers, who maintain DTC buses, were slapped fines of over Rs 20 crore for breakdowns between April and September 2013,” said a transport department official. 

The DTC is also facing problems in procuring low-floor buses as the manufacturers are not coming forward to apply for tenders. The corporation is now considering to purchase smaller mid-size buses to operate on routes that are not very busy, he said.

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