Delhi has a population of around 140 lacs and 9000 City Buses, which translates into one bus per 1550 persons. Dehra Dun has around 6 lacs people and 150 buses, which means one bus per 4000 persons! Hong Kong has one bus per 666 people! The Indian Government recommends one bus per thousand people, which means Dehra Dun is short of roughly, 450 buses.
Not only are we short of number of buses, their quality leaves a lot to be desired. There are no standards nor is there any monitoring in real time. Anyone can apply for a permit, grease a few palms, hire barely trained drivers and start running a bus. Or one can, simply, buy a bus with a permit outright from anyone willing to sell, no questions asked. This results in a free for all with no emphasis on standards, brand image and passenger comfort and efficiency.
To run a smooth world class service, instead of allotting permits to individuals, corporate companies should be invited to run bus services, with a minimum of 100 buses each. This will ensure a good brand image, quality of service and corporate efficiency. They should be allowed freedom to earn from advertisements on their buses, with revenues from tickets being shared with the DMC. This will also eliminate the menace of racing by buses to get more passengers.
People need to be attracted to use buses instead of their private vehicles. They should be able to reach their destinations in a faster, more comfortable and more economical way in a bus than in their own cars and scooters.
For this buses should be regular and frequent. From 6 am to 11pm, buses should run every 10 minutes on all routes, irrespective of the time of the day. Presently while buses run quite frequently during peak hours, it is very difficult to find a bus during off hours, early in the morning or after sunset. Buses should be as reliable as the metro or local in the metros.
To attract people who own cars, buses need to be comfortable. Low floor, air conditioned buses, as run by the DTC in Delhi, should be used, in conjunction with non air conditioned ones. Ticket pricing is not a concern to people who would use the air conditioned buses. As has been done in Indore, these buses should be fitted with GPS tracking device, so that monitoring is easily done in real time. Such devices help ensure that buses stick to their designated route and schedule. People can find out themselves when the next bus is due at their stop.
Further, since the concept of Greater Doon is slowly emerging, these city buses should run from Haridwar and Rishikesh to Mussorie and Vikasnagar through Dehra Dun. And from the routes of these buses, feeder bus services should run to the peripheral parts of the city. The present city buses can be utilized for these routes. This will benefit the hundreds of people who commute daily between Doon and Haridwar / Vikasnagar.
Providing an efficient bus service is the key to reducing traffic on the roads of our city. A recent study showed that 85% of vehicles on Indian roads are private vehicles, a majority of which carry a single occupant. If this single occupant could be shifted to a public transport, the face of our city would change. And that single occupant, in turn, would save money, be more comfortable and reach his destination faster! If only we could give him a world class city bus service.
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