Make Delhi govt speed up process to get new buses, panel tells apex court

Labelling the existing transport infrastructure in the national Capital “grossly inadequate”, the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) on Monday urged the Supreme Court (SC) to direct the Delhi government to expedite its bus procurement process. In a report submitted to the apex court, the Epca also criticised government agencies such as the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) for “discrepancies” in their data.

The SC-appointed body in its report gave a detailed status of the Delhi government’s plan to procure 3,385 buses. In it, the panel said the government’s tender to buy 350 low-floor AC buses under the cluster scheme was unsuccessful, as they received only one bid. The tender process for these buses will be started again. This apart, a few of the 1,000 standard-floor buses under the cluster scheme will start arriving this month, and the entire lot is expected to be in by January 2020. Another 650 buses of the required 3,385 could be on the roads soon after after that.

Despite the government’s bus procurement plan, the Epca observed in the report that this “would not be sufficient and therefore, the procurement strategies of the remaining buses must be expedited”.

The Delhi government did not comment on the matter, saying the matter is subjudice.

According to Epca’s report, Delhi at present has a total of 5,459 buses against the required 10,000, as per a 1998 SC order.

The EPCA also drew the court’s attention to the fact that there has been no study in Delhi so far which establishes the current ridership of the different modes of travel. It pointed out that there are discrepancies in the data provided by the agencies, as well as differing methodologies.

“For instance, while 1,679 cluster buses are estimated to have 12 lakh riders per day, DTC with 3,600 buses estimates that it carries around 30 lakh riders daily. The problem is the way total ridership is calculated. The daily bus passes were roughly 55% of the total ridership in DTC, as of April 2018, and it is assumed that each bus pass is used for 6 trips daily. This assumption increases the ridership, which has no basis and is difficult to justify,” the EPCA said.

“On the other hand, the cluster buses, which accept the same DTC daily pass, estimate that each pass is used for 2 trips per day. Therefore, if some basic correction is done to this data, it can be estimated that DTC ridership is not 30 lakh trips per day, but somewhere in the region of 20-25 lakh trips per day,” the report read. The body, in its report, however presented ridership figures across different modes by normalising the ridership data provided by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), DTC and the transport department, and converted all riders into passenger kilometre travelled.

The EPCA said there is already a huge gap between the number of operational state-run buses and the actual requirement of the city. An alarming number of the DTC’s existing bus fleet is ageing, and will be off the roads in the next few years, the report said, thus compounding the problem.

“Cities like Beijing, for instance, have 107 buses per lakh people. Delhi has 17 buses per lakh people. But what is also alarming is that these buses are rapidly aging — all of DTC’s current 3,600 on-road buses are over eight years-old, and will be required to be phased out within the next few years. This, when the growth of private vehicles is a key contributor to air pollution in the city, is a matter of grave concern,” it said.

First Published:
Jul 09, 2019 05:43 IST

Source: Read Full Article