Pic Credit -The Statesman
For the first time in the history of the transport corporation since it was set up in 1971, the entire fleet of the DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) buses have become overage. As per a report published by Hindustan Times, DTC has around 3760 buses under it, and all of whom have become technically non-pliable due to their age. A DTC low floor CNG propelled bus procured under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme has a maximum operational life of 12 years. DTC low floor buses are considered overage once they have served for over 8 years.
This transport situation is extremely fragile given Delhi needs 11,000 buses, as admitted by the Govt of Delhi in an affidavit to the High Court in 2018. The present strength of Delhi’s public buses is 6750 only, of which 2990 are clustered buses run by private operators, while the rest are maintained by the DTC.
Public buses in Delhi are said to ferry over one million passengers daily more than the Delhi Metro. The last tender to procure the low floor CNG buses was finalised in 2008 by the DTC since then no new tenders have been executed despite floating five tenders between 2013-2019 due to lack of bidders and high costs.
Although the contract to acquire 1000 new AC low floor buses have been awarded to bidders in 2020, alleged irregularities delayed the procurement. Shortage of buses with no new addition has compelled the DTC to ply overaged buses compromising passengers security which it mitigates, by cutting down trips. HT’s report also reveals the decreasing trips of the DTC buses from 33,497 per day in 2015-2016 to 30,000 trips per day, on an average.
Further, DTC buses are frequently breaking down and costing hugely to its productivity. The scrappage has also diminished over the years from 368 buses annually between 2011 and 2017 to a just couple in 2020-2021. The grim reality is forcing the DTC to seek permission from the State Transport Authority (STA) to run buses for up to 15 years.
The low floor buses were introduced as per the guideline of the Supreme Court and High Court to make public transport accessible to the disabled.