Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blueline buses: Does the Government have a solution ?

This is a mess that is entirely of its own making. Everybody knows that the transport situation in Delhi has been a problem, and given the way that the Capital's population is growing, things are only going to get worse unless some radical steps are taken. And the answer from Delhi's popular Chief Minister, Shiela Dixit over the years? The Government has systematically crippled the Delhi Transport Corporation, letting its bus service deteriorate and basically formulating policies that have let private operators take the lead in running buses on the street.
It is only for the past 1-2 months that this entire mess of Blueline buses has taken hold, but even before that, they and their predecessor, the Redline buses, were known as killer buses. The Government is supposed to be a regulator, and if you take a simple instance of speed governors on these private buses, a special drive had to be launched to make sure that these buses had speed governors installed. Is it not that these buses need to be periodically inspected for safety and for compliance with rules, or is it that the Government looks the other way while the inspectors make money from the bus owners in return for giving them a pass certificate.

The traffic police are another major problem. They are supposed to ensure that buses plying on the road follow the rules, but it is fairly common to find buses driving at any speed and very rashly without any care. If you ever get into a conversation with people working on these buses, their standard comment is that the cops on the way take their cut, and the rest does not matter. In this case, corruption of the cops literally kills.
Now, suddenly the Chief Minister advices that she would not feel safe travelling in a Blueline. Well, she has official transportation, but what about the common folks, the aam admi who has to travel in the buses and for whom traveling regularly in an auto is out of the question, and the DTC buses are so cramped that it is difficult to travel. Instead, a special drive is launched to make sure that the Blueline buses are all safe. The ones who pass the test will be given a certificate based on which they can travel on the road. But what about the way that the buses have been driven. They are out only to make money, the rules be damned. As a result, the buses stop where they want, and most importantly get into competition with other buses on the same route, as a result of which they will drive rashly and many times end up killing people or severely injuring them.
One hopes that the Delhi Government will not take a short-term step anymore, but actually do things that will make a difference and that will make the city roads safer.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:36 AM