“There used to be a single line to get into a bus, and women and elderly travellers were treated with utmost respect,” says 71-year-old South Delhi Mayor Subhash Arya with much nostalgia.
With the road-rationing experiment set to begin tomorrow, the veteran politician takes a trip down memory lane and recalls the days when MCD used to run double-decker buses in Delhi.
“The transport department used to be under the MCD, and besides regular buses, there used to be ‘Suvidha’ services, which were double-decker buses, and quite popular among people. I have fond memories of travelling in them,” Arya told PTI.
The buses, with a separate cabin for the driver in the front used to attract as much eyeballs as the appreciation they drew for prompt service.
“We are talking of encouraging use of public transport, but people in 60s to 80s, used them only. And, they quite enjoyed travelling in them. It is only when cars became accessible and affordable to people that the charm of buses and trams began to fade,” he said.
Born in Jhelum in Pakistan, Arya came to Delhi as a refugee and grew up travelling in buses and trams, which he says, lost their appeal due to “burgeoning population”.
“But, I can tell you one thing about those era, people displayed utmost discipline and courtesy in public. While boarding buses, they stood single file and inside buses, women, elderly and physically-challenged people were treated very courteously.
“Today, people have to be told in buses and metros to vacate seats, designated for women or others. Some don’t even listen despite being pointed out, and sit shamelessly,” he rued.
The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) ran its bus services under Delhi Transport Undertaking (DTU), which in 1971 became the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). DTC, was a few decades ago, taken over by the Delhi government. MCD was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East Corporations.
Trams, which today have become a piece of nostalgia in forms of postcards and old pictures, were once a lifeline of the city, especially the Walled City, besides the tongas, which exercised good appeal among the masses.
“The fare from Jama Masjid-Qutub Road was 1 Anna and till Bada Hidu Rao it was 1.5 Annas, and the service was available every three minutes. Later, they had also brought in the electric-driven trams running on tyres, instead of rails, but, that did not last much long, and by late 60s both were phased out,” said Arya, four-term councillor from Rajouri Garden.