Make bus the game changer, says CSE

It is shocking how bus transport that carries double the number of passengers in Delhi Metro is degenerating when Delhi has to reduce personal vehicle usage to curb pollution and congestion

During odd and even number formula programme, if the existing DTC fleet and the hired bus fleet are operated at maximum operational efficiency, at least 25 lakh additional commuters can be carried. This along with intensified metro system, auto and taxi systems and car-pooling can help the city create good commuting system that is not dependant on polluting cars

  • CSE’s latest analysis of the performance of DTC buses in the city has exposed that the carrying capacity of the existing fleet can be augmented considerably to meet the additional demand when half of the cars go off the road

  • DTC bus fleet is grossly under-utilized – much worse than is the case in other Indian cities. The number of passengers carried by DTC buses since 2013-14 has stagnated. This can be increased during odd and even days as with less cars on roads the overall journey speed of buses is expected to improve by 25 per cent. 

  • Due to congestion, poorly maintained fleet and shortage of drivers, buses cannot complete their scheduled trips and kilometers. Odd and even number formula will allow more space for efficient movement of buses

  • DTC buses do lowest average kilometer per bus per day compared with other cities like Bangalore. As many as 21 per cent of the scheduled trips are not operated as buses slow down on congested roads.

  • CSE estimates show that just by improving fleet utilization of DTC buses, completing all scheduled trips and eliminating missed trips in a day, DTC buses, cluster buses and 2,000 hired buses can carry at least 25 lakh additional passengers daily and absorb new demand during odd and even programme. This is equivalent to removing 16 lakh cars from roads.

  • This, with augmented metro service, organised autos and taxi service can help to promote public transport based commuting practices that should be sustained beyond the odd and even number programme

New Delhi December 30, 2015:  Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is shocked at the rapid deterioration of bus service in Delhi. The operational statistics of the Delhi Transport Corporation shows how the passenger numbers have stagnated despite the growing travel demand. The available bus fleet is grossly underutilized and a large number of scheduled trips are missed daily due to congestion and poor maintenance that, if corrected, can carry additional 5 lakh passengers a day. CSE’s analysis shows that during the implementation of odd and even formula from January 1, if the operational efficiency of DTC buses, cluster buses and the hired 2,000 buses is improved, these together can carry at least 25 lakh more passengers daily.

Public bus service in Delhi is provided by the state owned DTC and the privately run cluster bus services under the aegis of the Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transport Systems (DIMTS). While the operational statistics of DTC is available, the details of cluster buses are not. But limited information show that there is enormous scope of improving services of 4,712 DTC buses and 1,500 cluster buses with improved operational efficiency. While DTC buses carry 43.47 lakh passengers daily, cluster buses carry an additional 10 to 12 lakh passengers in a day. 

“The odd and even formula is an opportunity for Delhi to put in place the plan to improve public transport services to meet the additional commuting demand from halving of personal cars on roads that can be sustained and carried forward even after the programme is over,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director, CSE. 

CSE analysis finds considerable scope of improvement in bus service based on current DTC fleet

Bus fleet is grossly under utilised: DTC has about 4,712 buses. But its utilization during 2014-15 has been only 83.99 per cent against the 85.5 per cent in 2013-14. This is dismal and much worse compared to what other state transport undertakings in different cities have achieved – 95 per cent in Bangalore and Chandigarh. At any given point of time, at least 400 to 500 buses stand in depots unutilized due to poor maintenance or missed trips, which is equal to the total bus fleet in smaller cities. “This is unacceptable. By addressing this, bus service can be augmented significantly,” said Roy Chowdhury.

Buses cannot complete their daily scheduled trips due to congestion and poor maintenance: It is unacceptable that the buses cannot even complete the number of trips that are officially scheduled daily. Only 79.65 per cent of the daily scheduled trips are operated. This has come down from 85.76 per cent in 2011-12. This reduces passenger carrying capacity of the system. Delhi government will have to initiate preventive maintenance immediately to ensure all buses are fully utilized. Also, expert assessment shows that during odd and even number formula fortnight with less congestion on roads and bus lanes, the average journey speed of buses will improve by at least 25 per cent.

Buses do much less kilometers in a day than their counterparts in other cities:  During 2014-15, DTC buses did an average 188 kilometers a day against an average of 270 kilometers that buses of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation do. In fact, Delhi buses can complete only 78.8 per cent of the scheduled kilometers a day. This reduces the geographical coverage by the buses. This can be significantly augmented during odd and even number formula when congestion will be reduced. 

Bus passengers stagnating – arrest this trend immediately: It is very disturbing to note that the total number of passengers carried by the DTC has started to stagnate. While in 2012-13 DTC carried a total of 17071.79 lakh passengers or 46.77 lakh per day, it has actually declined to 15867.61 lakh passengers or 43.47 lakh a day in 2013-14. There was some improvement between 2011 and 2013 but that could not be sustained. But DTC buses are still carrying 1.7 times more passengers than Delhi metro which carries 24 lakh passengers per day. DTC and cluster buses together are carrying double this number. If this decline is not arrested and reversed, Delhi’s public transport will be weakened seriously and commit the city to enormous pollution. Each bus trip will be replaced by polluting two-wheeler and car trips. Already, the bus modal share has declined drastically from 60 per cent to 40 per cent. 

Substantial augmentation in passengers is possible with full utilization of current DTC fleet and hired buses during the ‘odd and even’ fortnight: If adequate steps are taken immediately to ensure at least 95 per cent fleet utilization and eliminate all missed trips, the same DTC fleet can carry additional 5 lakh commuters. If another 2,000 buses are added and utilized fully, 19 lakh more commuters can be catered to. Thus, overall capacity can be created to carry at least 24 lakh additional passengers during this fortnight.

Congested roads in Delhi have slowed down the bus and journey speed for bus commuters. Odd and even number programme can address that: Two cars occupy same road space as one bus but carry just two persons on an average whereas one bus carries at least 60 persons -- 30 times the number of passengers in cars. Bus can displace anywhere between 5 and 50 other vehicles and allow enormous oil and pollution savings. As a public policy, roads will have to be designed to allow priority to buses. The Delhi government has started painting the bus lanes. But the sanctity of bus lanes will have to be protected with strong enforcement. Otherwise the investment that Delhi will make to fulfill the Supreme Court mandate of 10,000 buses will be wasteful as buses will not meet the objective of improving bus transport service. It is appalling that bus services have been curtailed from neighbourhoods of Delhi due to congestion. The glaring example is that of Chittaranajan Park where out of seven services only one remains.

Like the Delhi Metro, remove taxes on buses to make it more affordable: It is ironical that for providing public transport services buses are burdened with a huge tax burden. The Delhi metro enjoys a wide range of tax exemption that includes property tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, custom, excise, income tax etc. But buses pay property tax, octroi, excise, entry tax, VAT, central excise, custom duty, excise duty on consumption, excise and VAT on spare parts, motor vehicle tax, advertisement tax etc.

Roy Chowdhury said, “Public transport is for public good. Exempt bus transport from taxes. Ironically, buses in Delhi pay more road tax than cars. Bus transport has become more expensive than using a two-wheeler on a kilometer basis. There is barely any tax on personal vehicle usage.  The Master Plan of Delhi 2021 has set target of 80 per cent public transport share by 2020. The RITES has estimated that buses can help to meet at least 73 per cent of the target. Buses allow greater flexibility, geographical coverage, cost-effectiveness and space efficiency; they can flexibly and easily meet the needs of changes in demography and land use. It can cover areas with lower travel demand. 

Odd and even number formula is an opportunity for Delhi to make the existing public transport services more efficient and reliable. The systems created for this programme should lay the foundation for the future reforms for lasting impact on air quality.

CSE recommends an immediate strategy needs to be put in place which would include the following measures:

  • Immediately implement plan to operate DTC, DIMTS, cluster buses and hired buses at least 95  per cent fleet utilization to augment the number of passengers that can be carried

  • Enforce bus lanes to ensure improvement in journey speed of buses to provide reliable and frequent bus service

  • Announce and monitor bus time tables. Provide public information

  • Intensify metro service, and facilitate organized deployment of taxis, autos and e rickshaws and other para transit systems. Protect commuters from over-charging. Encourage institutions to organise car-pooling.

  • Provide for safe and barrier-free walking and cycling in the city: All concerned government agencies should implement traffic calming methods and protective measures for walkers and cyclists to help them access destination safely and conveniently. 

  • Enforce parking restraints on pavements and penalize illegal parking during this programme. Limit legal parking areas across the city and demarcate them on the ground. Impose high penalty for illegal parking on public space. Levy high parking charges and also price residential parking in public spaces. 


For further information, please contact Vrinda Nagar, CSE Media Resource Centre, at 9654106253/