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'Urban bus' set to hit city

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, JUNE 20.

The eagerly awaited airconditioned ``urban bus'' is all set to hit the city road on Friday. The 100-seater bus being provided to Delhi Transport Corporation by Ashok Leyland for trial run would ply between Vasant Vihar in South Delhi and Scindia House in Connaught Place.

Insiders in the DTC said three more urban buses -- one by Ashok Leyland and two by TELCO -- would soon start plying on city routes on an experimental basis. ``It is only after the trial period is over that we will decide on the large-scale induction of urban buses,'' they said. Once the trial period is over these state-of-the-art buses would be returned by the DTC.

The air-conditioned bus, which the officials said had features like low floor and pneumatic doors would be flagged of by the Chief Minister, Ms. Sheila Dikshit, on Friday.

According to sources, the first urban CNG bus was built in Spain on behalf of Ashok Leyland. ``Officials of Ashok Leyland have said that other buses would be built by them in India and would be handed over to DTC soon,'' officials said, adding: ``None of the two Indian bus manufacturers are charging for the buses which has cost over Rs. 40 lakh per vehicle.''

The first urban bus of the Capital would have a three-tier fare structure starting from Rs. 8 for travel upto 10 km. The other two slabs are Rs. 12 and Rs. 15. Senior DTC officials said compared to the fare structure for similar buses in other parts of the world, it was less in Delhi. ``Generally it is Rs. 80 per passenger in Western countries. As our commuters cannot afford, we are going in for such a low fare structure,'' they said.

Acknowledging that these buses required special type of treatment and different driving skills, officials said eight DTC drivers have been selected for undergoing training. ``They are being trained by experts of Ashok Leyland,'' they said.

This is not the first time that such an attempt has been made in pushing into operation such buses. The previous BJP Government had also attempted one such bus. They had even brought a Volvo bus, but it never saw the light of the day.

However, despite several hurdles, the Delhi Transport Minister, Mr. Parvez Hashmi, has succeeded in his plan to provide world- class city buses to Delhiites. Progressing in a systematic and scientific manner, he has gone ahead to appoint a high-power committee headed by a senior IIT Professor, Mr. Dinesh Mohan, to recommend various parameters related to the urban buses. The committee, which had its first meeting last week, is likely to submit its report within six months.

According to DTC sources, there were plans to induct as many as 2,000 urban CNG buses in the Capital out of the total fleet of 10,000 buses. A reputed consultant has been appointed to look in various measures and financial viability of urban CNG buses in Delhi.

Conceding that they still had a ``long way to go,'' DTC officials asserted that the trial run of first urban CNG bus from Friday was a ``major step'' towards achieving the goal of having one- fifth of the city fleet as urban CNG bus.

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