Cluster bus service launched in Delhi

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Designed on the public transport system of Paris, the much awaited cluster bus service was launched by Delhi Chief Minster Shiela Dikshit here Thursday.

Under the service, an initial fleet of 17 buses hit the roads in south Delhi and will be increased by 50 every month to 211. The buses will run on 32 routes in south Delhi. By the end of the year, 1,000 to 1,500 such buses will be plying in various clusters in the capital. Eventually, such buses will be plying on 650 routes in 17 clusters.

'I hope that public transport will be better via these buses. We are also planning to launch this service in all the 17 clusters in the capital,' Dikshit said at the launch of the service.

Equipped with modern facilities like a global positioning system (GPS) and electronic ticketing machine (ETM), the buses are described as being better than the similar looking low floor buses being operated by the state-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

'So far we have launched only 17 buses and their number will increase to 50 in a month. These buses have all the modern facilities and in fact, they are better than the low-floor bus of the DTC. Announcements will be made about each stop on the route. All the 231 buses of the south Delhi cluster will be launched in two to three months,' Delhi Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said.

Talking to newsmen here, Lovely said the cluster bus service is the only one of its kind in India.

Being operated on the public-private-partnership (PPP) model, the non-AC buses are painted orange while the AC buses, which are yet to be introduced, will be in purple.

The service in the first cluster will be run by Star Bus Pvt Ltd. Nearly 650 routes across the city have been divided into 17 clusters - each comprising profitable and non-profitable routes and will be run by a private operator.

'It is a step forward to to strengthen our public transport system. We want people to switch from their vehicles to public transport. I hope we will have a positive response,' said Lovely.