No Blueline buses after Dec 14 in Delhi

Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, after a marathon meeting with top officials of his department, said the 1,600 blueline buses, which were shunted out from south and central Delhi as well as from areas near Commonwealth Games venues last month, will not be allowed to operate again.

Earlier, there were around 2,400 blueline buses operating in the capital and now only 800 of them will ply in the capital till December 14. "December 14 will be the last day for blueline buses in Delhi. We cannot leave people of Delhi at the mercy of blueline buses," Lovely said.

Around 8,000 people were dependent on these privately-owned buses for their livelihood. Lovely said Government-run Delhi Transport Corporation now has 6,500 buses including nearly 4,000 low floor buses and the fleet will be able to meet transport requirement of the city.

"More over, we will get 200 more low floor buses in two-three weeks' time. Apart from that we are expecting 4,000 buses in the cluster bus service," he added. Out of the 1,600 buses, nearly 835 buses were allowed to ply in non-NDMC areas from last Saturday and Lovely said a notification would be issued within two-three days for their removal also.

The government had set many a deadline in the last few years to phase out the blueline buses and replace them with swanky low-floor buses ahead of the Commonwealth Games but failed.

"We allowed them to ply from Saturday and on the very first day, a person was killed by a Blueline. We cannot allow it to continue. I will do everything possible to ensure safety of people on the roads," Lovely said.

"Government will issue a notification later this week in this regard. These 835 buses which have got permit will be taken off the roads by this weekend," Lovely said. A 21-year-old motorcyclist was killed after allegedly being hit by a blueline bus near Ashram on Saturday.

The government had last year announced an ambitious cluster bus service scheme under which corporate entities were proposed to be given certain routes in the city on the pattern of cities like Paris and London.

According to government statistics, 182 people had lost their lives in accidents involving blueline buses in 2005 while the number of people killed by these buses in 2006 was 163. 108 people lost their lives in 2008 while in 2009, 115 people were killed in accidents involving blueline buses.

Asked about the pending case in Delhi High Court regarding phasing out of blueline buses on the 600 routes, Lovely said the government was confident that the court will accept its decision.

"We will apprise the High Copurt about the decision and I am confident that court will accept our proposal," he said. The Delhi High Court had stayed the government's move to phase out the blueline buses in February this year arguing that the DTC alone was not capable to meet the requirement of public transport. Officials said government would file an affidavit in the High Court on October 28, the next date of hearing in the case.

Although Delhi government failed to keep its promise of launching first cluster bus service before the Games, Lovely said it will start from November. The transport department had divided nearly 650 bus routes across the city into 17 clusters, each comprising profitable and non profitable routes to be run by a private operator.

The government was trying to get rid of private buses in the capital and replace them with a new fleet of DTC buses for the past couple of years. Over 1,000 new low-floor buses, which were used to ferry athletes and dignitaries during the Games, have now been included in DTC's fleet.

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