The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) is looking at inducting smaller buses to its fleet on a pilot project basis after a lack of interest shown by low-floor bus manufacturers. It is planning to get manufacturers of midi and mini buses to hand over two-three buses and run them on an experimental basis for a few months, after which they will look at procuring more buses of this size depending on the response such buses receive.
The technical wing of the DTC is in talks with several manufacturers of midi and mini buses. These buses will be run on a pilot basis on normal routes to get a response from the commuters.
“Manufacturers like Force, Swaraj Mazda and Eicher all have buses in this segment. While the midi buses would be used on normal routes on which the low floor buses ply as well, the mini buses would be run on the feeder bus routes and on smaller routes,”’ an official said.
DTC’s efforts to augment the fleet has failed to yield any results. It has floated five tenders till date to replace its 1,725 old buses. The latest tender taken out by the DTC was looking to procure 1,380 semi-low floor non-AC buses and 345 low floor AC buses.
But the bid for low floor buses under the JNNURM scheme has got only one bid from Tata Motors. The new response by Tata Motors has been sent for evaluation, DTC sources said, before it would be sent for financial evaluation. Several international firms, including a Chinese and Polish company, had shown interest in the pre-bid process but did not follow it up with submitting their final bids.
To get a better response this time, DTC had in fact decided to opt for semi low-floor, non-AC buses as the high maintenance cost of low-floor buses was proving to be a deterrent for bus manufacturers to participate in the bidding process.
“The decision to go for smaller buses was taken as the acquisition of low floor buses was taking longer than planned,” an official said.
The DTC has already tried this experiment earlier. A year ago, Volvo had handed over a bus to the CNG for plying on Delhi routes. While the bus and maintenance was done by Volvo, the driver and conductor had been supplied by the DTC. The revenue generated went into DTC’s coffer. “The Volvo was at that point looking to see if it wanted