Many challenges as DTC gets ready to roll out plan

Sourav Roy Barman
DTC has sought Rs 200 crore as subsidy for six months.

From concerns about overcrowding to a six-month subsidy demand of Rs 200 crore the Delhi Transport Corporation’s (DTC) report lists challenges in implementing the AAP government’s proposal to make travel free for women.

The Indian Express has learnt that the corporation has sought Rs 200 crore as subsidy for six months in its report to the Transport Department, which, according to Minister Kailash Gahlot, has nearly finalised a Cabinet note on the matter.

Like the DMRC, the DTC has also formulated three possible ways to execute the proposal in its current fleet of around 3,600 buses and 1,679 orange cluster buses that come under DIMTS.

Officials said DTC has strongly pitched for the launch of special passes for women in rolling out the proposal. Currently, DTC offers special passes to students and senior citizens.

Having special passes will ensure that…possibilities of misuse are minimal, an official said. The other possible measures proposed by the DTC are colour-coded tickets and use of Metro smart cards.

Metro smart cards are already accepted in the city’s public buses, which have been equipped with Electronic Ticketing Machines (ETMs) that recognise the smart cards as a valid mode of travel.

However, the corporation has flagged concerns relating to misuse of the plan by the public and its own staff. For example, a bus may not be taken out of the depot…but its driver or conductor may claim so. They may tear off a few tickets to show that and claim that the remaining tickets were unsold as women had travelled in large numbers, an official said.

The fear of overcrowding also figures in the DTC report. The corporation has not been able to add a single bus in its fleet since the 2010 Commonwealth Games due to litigations and unsuccessful tenders. Meanwhile, the DMRC has estimated that it will need around Rs 1,566 crore annual subsidy from the government if the scheme is implemented.

However, the need to get the proposal cleared by a Fare Fixation Committee, which is to be notified by the Union government, has prompted the Delhi government to work towards covering the buses under the scheme on an immediate basis.

Like DTC, the Metro has also warned that the scheme comes with risk of misuse by non-beneficiaries as the existing system is not equipped to differentiate between different commuters.