On borrowed time: Why DTC must switch gears in Delhi | Delhi News

On borrowed time: Why DTC must switch gears in Delhi | Delhi News

NEW DELHI: The CNG bus fleet of Delhi Transport Corporation has aged considerably. All its 3,191 CNG-run buses are now over 10 years old, leaving them vulnerable to breakdowns.
According to transport department’s data, DTC has 4,391 buses in its fleet, of which 1,200 are electric and the rest are CNG. Though CNG buses in Delhi are allowed to run for 15 years, senior officials and experts say that, in an ideal situation, these vehicles should not be run after 10 years, as, by then, they have been used exhaustively and are in a rough condition.
“Most of these buses have run past 8 lakh kilometres,” a senior official said.

On Borrowed Time: Why DTC Must Switch Gears

The number of CNG buses in Delhi in 2014-15 stood at 4,705, but this figure dwindled to 3,760 in 2020-21 and further dipped to 3,191 in 2023. However, the city has seen an addition of 1,300 electric buses in the past couple of years. The city also has 2,841 cluster buses, taking the total number of buses to over 7,200.
A senior official said that one of the reasons that new buses hadn’t been procured for a long time was tenders being cancelled due to issues with the annual maintenance contract. “Most vendors wanted to provide buses, but did not want to enter into AMCs. There were some vigilance cases as well,” the official said.
It’s the commuters who bear the brunt of the situation. Around 25 buses grinded to a halt on city roads every day during the previous summer, causing congestion on roads and slowing traffic movement. Data collected from various agencies showed that over 7,000 buses broke down in 2021.
PK Sarkar, former head, transport planning, School of Planning Architecture, said: “In many advanced countries, buses are replaced in eight years. But we are running them for 12-15 years. Also, these buses are run in very rough conditions and, as a result, the chances of breakdown are high.” Sarkar said while many new buses had been procured, the number wasn’t enough. “We have around 7,000 buses, whereas the fleet should be at least 15,000-strong,” he said.
Over a decade ago, Delhi government, in its bid to provide “world-class” service, had inducted low-floor buses, of which 25% were air-conditioned. But after the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the plan went off-track. During the same period, Delhi government filed an affidavit in Supreme Court, informing it that the city needed 11,000 buses.
Delhi Transport Corporation did not respond to queries on the matter.
Former deputy commissioner in Delhi’s transport department Anil Chhikara said: “These buses are of better quality when compared with their roadways or conventional counterparts. That is why, they are able to handle up to 15 years.” He added: “The solution to this problem is immediate procurement of buses so that longer or tougher routes are given to the newer vehicles.”
International Council On Clean Transportation India MD Amit Bhatt said, “The operation cost as well as emissions increase as a bus grows older. The question is how we replace them. First, we need to replace them at a faster rate due to the ever-increasing pollution and, second, switch to zero emission vehicles, that is, electric ones.”
A senior official of Delhi government said, “By 2025, Delhi will have a total of 10,480 buses, with 80% of the fleet being electric, thus saving 4.67 lakh tonnes of Co2 annually.”

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