The Arvind Kejriwal government’s new year gift to the citizen of Delhi in the form of slashing bus fares had to be postponed due to issues related to L-G office and departments concerned. Now it is evident that people taking public transport in Delhi will have to wait for some more time to travel in DTC and cluster buses on cut-fare tickets. The AAP government had planned to reduce monthly bus pass rates from Rs 800 to Rs 250 for non-AC buses, and from Rs 1,000 to Rs 250 for AC buses – a 70% cut. There will be a flat fare of Rs 5 in non-AC DTC and cluster buses, while it will be Rs 10 in air-conditioned buses for a month on trial basis. At present, a ride in a AC bus can cost anywhere between Rs 10 to 25 while the same in non-AC buses are from Rs 5 to Rs 15. Government has also proposed to make DTC bus travel free for students up to the age of 21 years. Daily bus pass for non-AC buses is currently available for Rs 40 and Rs 50 for AC buses, but government will bring down the rate of both pass services to Rs 20 for one month.
For daily commuters, this may well not be a reason to be happy. A close analysis will reveal quite a different picture. If we go through the details, we will realize that the decision will only be detrimental to the state of city’s beleaguered public road transport. Here are the reasons why, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) governments step is anti-public at its heart:
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1. The decision to reduce fares was originally mooted by former Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to encourage people to use public transport in view of city’s alarming pollution. The decision is a self contradictory one as money is not a factor for those who will opt for buses instead of their private vehicles.
2. The decision also leads to another crucial point- populist measures and subsidies do not bode well for infrastructure development. Just look at the declining state of Delhi Metro. When revenue will not be generated, how will an entity be able to sustain itself? This may augur a slow but sure demise for DTC and the resultant transport crisis will trouble commuters no end!
3. Casting reservations about the Delhi government’s plan to slash bus fares by around 70 per cent, new Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has questioned the economic viability of the decision citing finance department’s remark about the debt-ridden DTC suffering further losses if bus fares are slashed. The decision will only put burden on the cash-strapped DTC. This in effect has brought him into a face-off position against the AAP government.
4. As a citizen of the national capital, we need world class and quality public transport. When the reduction of fares will come into effect, it is the quality of service that will take the beating. The common man who takes to the public transport does not want to travel ‘cattle class’. S/he is willing to fork out that much extra to ensure a comfortable and hassle-free journey.
Presently, Delhi Transport Corporation has 4,355 buses while there are 1,600 cluster buses (orange). Hope DTC will induct more buses to bolster its fleet rather blatantly catering to the populist political mindset. In lieu of cheap rates, Delhi wants a humming public transport.