Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blue Lines: Away From Games Venues

From September 26, about 1,600 Blue line buses will go off the roads in central Delhi and around Commonwealth Games venues. The rickety fleet will be replaced with an equal number of low floor DTC buses which are being put on the affected routes. The move is aimed at improving the ‘‘image and look’’ of areas which will be frequented by athletes, delegates and tourists during the Games.

For this, some of the 132 affected routes will be curtailed and Bluelines plying on them will have to turn back from a designated point so that they ply only in areas which are unaffected by the Games. On some routes which operated only in the central parts of the city, however, the buses will be totally put off the roads. A majority of the Blue line buses which are being removed, will not be given alternative routes to ply. According to records of the transport department, the permits of the buses are close to expiring and therefore, giving them other routes is not viable. Some operators will be given alternative routes.

Blue line operators, however, feel the move is against the government’s mandate of promoting public transport. ‘‘We haven’t received any individual notices from the government yet. But the Games are a matter of national interest and we are going to cooperate with the government in whatever decision is taken. But the world over, public transport has been promoted during Games buses in Melbourne and Beijing ran extra trips. We only want our buses to be diverted to other vacant routes,’’ said Shyam Lal Gola of Delhi Bus Ekta Manch, a Bluelines bus operators’ collective.

The phasing out of Bluelines, however, doesn’t mean a shortage of buses in the city. ‘‘In the last four months alone, we have got 2,000 new DTC low floor buses. Part of this fleet will be used to augment services on the affected routes where Bluelines are being phased out. DTC has worked out a detailed plan for this which will be implemented when the phase-out starts from Saturday,’’ said transport commissioner R K Verma.

The original plan was to remove Bluelines from these areas from September 25 but this was postponed by a day as it was felt that commuter rush is lesser on Sunday and DTC is getting over 220 more buses from Ashok Leyland too which can be used to augment services. The transport department is planning to open the Burari Regional Transport Office (RTO) to facilitate registration of the new fleet.

The city has about 2,300 Bluelines of which over half will be affected by this move. A large chunk of the 6,000-strong DTC fleet being taken away for Games use too. The corporation will run special shuttle services from 52 focal points to facilitate movement to all the Commonwealth Games venues.