Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said his government will introduce a scheme, subject to the lieutenant governor’s approval, for private aggregators to run premium buses to cater to middle-class and upper-middle-class commuters.
Addressing a press conference, he said these premium buses will be air-conditioned and equipped with Wi-Fi, GPS, CCTV and a panic button. There will be no provision of free travel for women in them, as available in buses run by the government.
The fares will be decided by the aggregators. There will be only one condition — the fare of a particular route should be higher than that of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses — he said.
People will be able to book their seats online or through an application, he said.
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”As the protocol mandates…we will be sending this file to the LG office today. It is up to the LG to decide if he wants the citizens of Delhi to have this service or…send the file to the President’s office. But since it is a public welfare scheme, I hope that the LG will give his approval to it,” he said.
Following Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena’s approval, the government will put up the scheme details on its website and invite public feedback for a period of one month, he said.
He said these premium buses will cater to the middle-class and upper-middle-class commuters who have the capacity to pay for the services.
”These people have money to own cars and on a daily basis travel in their own vehicles. They pay for their petrol on a daily basis. But if given an option of a bus that is comfortable, we believe that they will leave their cars behind and opt for the bus,” he said.
He said that in buses run by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS), there is no guarantee of a seat and the comfort that a middle-class or upper-middle-class person expects. Therefore, they do not use these buses much, he said, adding people in the lower-middle class usually travel in them.
The chief minister said the premium bus aggregator scheme has been in the works for the last four to five years and that it is the first such experiment in India.
Under the Delhi Motor Vehicles Licensing of Aggregator (Premium Buses) Scheme, 2023, the buses will have 2×2 reclining seats. No standing passengers will be allowed in these buses. Buses that are more than three years old will not be allowed to run under this scheme and they have to run on CNG.
After January 1, 2024, all the buses running in the fleet should be electric ones.
Each aggregator needs to operate and maintain at least 50 buses within 90 days of receiving the licence.
”…aggregators that use only electric buses will not have to pay any licence fees. This is to encourage the usage of electric buses. All the buses need to have a minimum of 12 seats,” he said. ”Aggregators can decide the routes on which they want to run the buses. They will only need to inform the city government about the routes…. They will want to run on a route where there is more traffic and, therefore, with this service the number of private vehicles on that route is likely to reduce,” he said.
All these private buses will be required to have a uniform, colour-coded logo and the government is working on this aspect. He also said that the bus aggregator will be allowed to advertise inside the bus and collect revenue.
”We will invite public feedback on the scheme and if we get some good suggestions, we will incorporate it into the scheme and then it will be implemented in Delhi. I firmly believe that such a scheme will greatly benefit public transport in not just Delhi but throughout the country,” he said.
Kejriwal said there is a large number of cars and scooters on Delhi roads.
”Delhi is the capital of our country and our public transport should be world class and at par with foreign cities. If we want to get people to use public transport, we should make public transport safe, comfortable and time-bound,” he said.
The biggest revolution in the transport sector in Delhi came when Delhi Metro started functioning two decades ago. A lot of people who belong to the middle and upper middle classes began to leave their vehicles behind and travel by Delhi Metro, he noted. This decreased the number of vehicles plying on the streets of Delhi.
”The rush in the Metro over time increased, and now the people do not get a seat in it and often have to stand for long in jam-packed trains, and therefore the people have shifted back to their private cars and scooters,” he said.