Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Hop on and off buses beginning September

Starting September 15, Delhi will join an elite list of international cities which have a 'hop-on, hop-off' bus service for tourists.

With three designated routes that include not just monuments but also museums, parks, shopping areas and foreign exchange bureaus, the buses will ply at intervals of 10 minutes to 15 minutes like in other cities including London, Paris, Rome, New York, Sydney, Singapore, Barcelona and others. Though the service has been started with an eye on the Commonwealth Games, it will continue after the sporting extravaganza.

To start with, 15 buses will run on the designated routes to cover monuments such as Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, Qutab Minar, Purana Qila, Begumpuri Masjid, Hauz Khas monuments and Tughlaqabad Fort, and other places of interest in Mehrauli area and Lutyens' Delhi. The routes will also cover shopping areas like Connaught Place, Santushti Complex, Khan Market, malls, Dilli Haat, museums, Commonwealth Games venues, parks, foreign exchange bureaus and even popular eating joints.

"The service will start from September 15 with 10-15 buses. Based on the response, more buses and routes will be added after the Commonwealth Games," said Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta.

The buses will be luxury coaches with large window panes that will enable visitors a clear view of the city from every seat. The government is going for air-conditioned, low-floor buses. "We needed CNG buses and finding an open/glass top double-decker variant in CNG was not possible. But we will look at introducing such buses after the Games," said Rina Ray, managing director, Delhi Tourism. To make them look attractive, the buses will be painted in bright colours and the exteriors will reflect the character of the tours on offer. Every bus will also have a dedicated guide on board, along with specialised audio guides and literature, to keep the visitors updated on the sites as they pass by. Every trip will be of 2.5 hour to 3 hour duration.

The project started off as a joint effort between Delhi Tourism and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), but the latter pulled out due to excess workload before the Games. Now, the buses will be run by a private operator. The routes have been decided in consultation with INTACH. "The service is not just aimed at foreign tourists. We are also targeting national tourists and Delhiites who would like to explore the city. The fare, though yet to be finalised, will be nominal," Ray added.

Buses run on predefined routes at regular intervals. Tourists can choose a route and board any bus. They will have the option of getting off at a place of their interest on the way and have the choice of taking any of the later buses on the same route. The ticket has a day-long validity. "The entire plan is to empower tourists who come to the city during the Commonwealth Games. As of now, three routes have been finalised but more will added after the Games. The service will follow the model used abroad, where buses visit places of interest and not just monuments," said AGK Menon, Convenor, INTACH.


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