The Delhi government has released an official statement which will allow app-based premium bus services to operate in the capital. The notification states that the scheme will come into effect from June 1 enabling people to book their seats in buses through their smartphone, similar to the app-based taxi services like Ola and Uber.

The scheme was announced last month, aiming to support Delhi’s odd-even scheme in reducing pollution in the city and to encourage car users to use public transport.

As per the new policy, bus aggregators will determine the routes on which Premium buses will ply from time to time and specify such routes along with the time schedule of each trip on its web-based application.

Provisions and Restrictions

According to the notification, only air-conditioned buses will ply under the scheme. And one bus aggregator will have to run at least 50 vehicles to get a licence from Delhi Government’s Transport department. However, it also stated that no bus shall be attached to more than three bus aggregators.

– The notification has not set any restrictions on fares or routes of the services, however, it does state that the government will set the upper limit of fares and take steps to check predatory pricing.

The service will only allow electronic payments.

– The notification also requires the aggregator to list a passenger manifest, the route of the trip and the details of the bus driver. The final list will be frozen five minutes before the bus departs, as a measure to prevent drivers from taking more passengers.

– The app will also have a feedback or complaint feature. The procedure for registering a complaint shall be displayed inside the bus as well.

Also to provide safety for women, the aggregator will have to provide a rapid response mechanism and ensure a panic button in its app.

The notification also states that in case the aggregator cancels the booking due to a break-down or “Force majeure” (unforeseen circumstances/superior force), the aggregator will have to either arrange for a different transport or refund twice the amount taken from the passenger. In case of any other reasons, the aggregator will have to pay at least 10 times the amount taken.

The government has also made the installation of two CCTV cameras, Wi-Fi and GPS compulsory in each bus to be plied under the new service. All buses have to be CNG fuelled.

Violation of any rules will come with a fine of Rs 5,000.

Past Developments

This new notification gives services like Ola’s Shuttle, Shuttl and ZipGo the freedom to operate in the capital and thus, expand its services in the NCR region.

In February, ZipGo, a shuttle service provider had its services suspended in Bangalore.

In December, last year, over 20 buses from Ola Shuttle, and Shuttl were seized for providing intra-city transit services without proper permits. They had suspended their operations in Gurgaon for not having got the correct permits for operating shuttle services.

Bus aggregator services

  • In November 2015, ZipGo had launched bus services for women in Delhi/NCR, on a membership basis.
  • In September last year, Ola had launched bus shuttle services in Gurgaon and Bangalore to its platform.
  • In April 2014, Shuttl had launched its services. It is also planning a monthly subscription for commuters in Delhi/NCR, according to Business Standard.
  • Apart from these, there are bus aggregator services in other cities like CityFlo and rBus in Mumbai.