Friday, October 30, 2009

From Next Year new Double-decker buses for the city

The commonwealth games, to be held next year has become boon for the national capital, as various departments and pumping funds for infrastructural development, by next year, Delhi can expect to have its own hop-on-hop-off heritage tourist bus service modeled on the lines of the London counterpart. Delhi government has proposed to introduce specially designed double-decker buses, which will be run on tailor-made routes taking tourists not just to monuments but also museums, shopping venues, theatre and even typical Indian weddings for the foreign clientele.

The buses will be luxury coaches with large window panes to enable a clear view of the city from every seat.

To make them attractive, they will be painted in bright colors and the exteriors will be designed by professionals to reflect the character of the tours on offer. Every bus will have a guide on board to keep the visitors updated on the sites as they pass by.

In a joint collaboration between Delhi Tourism and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), the government is eager to introduce these buses before the Commonwealth Games kick off in October. But the service is not just aimed at the foreign tourists expected in Delhi during the Games. The government is also targeting the average Delhiite who can take a hop-onhop-off tour in place of going to a cinema or a restaurant, which officials said will also take away the burden of parking and planning. The routes are being chalked out by Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) and Shahjahanabad Development Corporation, and Intach will also provide trained guides and printed literature to be available on board.

The concept of hop-on-hop-off, which is very popular in European countries, has buses running on predefined routes at regular intervals. Tourists can choose a route and board any bus. They will have the option of getting off at a place of their interest on the way and have the choice of taking any of the later buses on the same route. The ticket has a day-long validity. ‘‘The idea came from a meeting on heritage sites and walks. Intach had suggested we should have these kind of buses specifically for tourists so that they can walk around sites and cover a larger number of heritage areas and other places of interest,’’ said chief secretary Rakesh Mehta.

The tourism department has started work on identifying themes for the tours and so far zeroed in on Mughal, Colonial, Independence and Mehrauli area. Said Reena Ray, MD, Delhi Tourism: ‘‘DTC will provide the buses and we will take care of the tourist and culture part. Each tour will be a full day package with its share of monuments, shopping, and places of interest like Dilli Haat and then culminate with a theatre performance in the evening. We have even got suggestions to introduce a typical Indian wedding in the schedule for foreigners but the main focus will be heritage. We are looking at a June-July launch.’’

DTC, meanwhile, is scouting for the perfect double-decker bus for the service. ‘‘All the double-decker buses we have seen run on diesel, but we need a CNG variant for Delhi. There are issues on where the cylinders will be accommodated in the bus design. Also, the model needs to suit our climatic conditions and dust in the city. The bus could have large windows for a good view,’’ said a senior DTC official.

Though the fare structure has not yet been finalized, Ray said that it would not be very expensive as they want to target the aam aadmi(common man) also.