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Wednesday, May 30, 2001

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Electric trolley buses coming

By Lalit K. Jha

NEW DELHI, MAY 29. Electric trolley buses which once plied in the Walled City of Delhi will soon stage a comeback on the Capital's roads. Delhi Transport Corporation is planning to bring in 200 of these non-polluting eco-friendly vehicles on major traffic corridors of the city in the months to come.

Developed indigenously by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, (BHEL), these 100-seat low-floor buses will derive power from overhead electric wires running parallel to the road. Besides Ring Road, two other corridors identified for these buses are the 12.65-km stretch between Udyog Vihar in Gurgoan and Dhaula Kuan and the 11.2-km road from Anand Vihar Terminal in East Delhi to Sarai Kale Khan in South Delhi. Another major corridor will be in West Delhi. A 70-km stretch on Outer Ring Road will be taken up in the next phase.

Sources in DTC say pre-feasibility studies have been completed and a final report by BHEL and a Mumbai-based consultant on operational details, maintenance and financial viability is to be submitted next week.

As per the memorandum of understanding to be signed with DTC, BHEL will help in setting up the infrastructure and providing technical know-how, while DTC will be responsible for all operational aspects.

``We are planning a service every two minutes in clockwise as well as anti-clockwise direction on Ring Road,'' sources say. The ETBs will be introduced only in areas untouched by the Metro Rail project.

BHEL so far has been exporting the infrastructure for ETBs to several countries.``Such buses are being used for public transport in several countries across the world as an alternative to the more common diesel buses. China has as many as 3,525 such buses and these are very popular in East European countries, Russia and Latin America as well,'' say officials.

To be sure, DTC is only re-introducing the ETBs in Delhi. These were in operation here until as recently as 1962. The Delhi Road Transport Authority was running 26 trams and three ETBs in the Walled City area of Chandni Chowk, Lahori Gate, Tis Hazari and Jama Masjid. This tram system was introduced in Delhi way back in 1908.

Officials say it is feasible to operate ETBs profitably only in certain corridors. While Ring Road has been earmarked as one major corridor, the Dhaula Kuan-Gurgaon stretch has been chosen in view of heavy rush of commuters during office hours.

``A recent survey revealed that given a choice, people who stay in Gurgoan but work in Delhi would not use their private vehicles if there was a good, luxurious and reliable public transport system between the two places,'' say officials.

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