Delhi’s Killer Buses Take Heavy Toll

As Delhi’s doddering Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit bumbles along, the city’s killer buses continue their merciless death ride.

Particularly eggregious of Delhi’s buses are the privately owned Blueline buses, popularly – and correctly – referred to as the “killer buses.”

According to Saturday’s New York Times, the Blueline buses have already claimed 62 lives this year.

Many of those killed by these monster buses are young children. Two weeks ago, a 11-year-old boy taking his dog to the vet was crushed by a Blueline. Last week, a 14-year-old boy was the unlucky victim of a Blueline bus.

The increasing numbers of accidents and deaths on the roads may finally be rousing the somnolent Delhites to some action. As the NYT story notes:

This series of fatal accidents has pushed the capital’s long-suffering commuters beyond the limits of tolerance. The public outcry has brought Delhi’s bus services to a near standstill and left politicians flailing to devise ways of improving standards quickly. The metropolis of Delhi includes the government’s center, New Delhi.

In her characteristic juvenile style of governance, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said she’d rather walk than ride a Blueline bus.

What humbug.

We doubt if Dikshit has ever seen the insides of a Delhi bus. Unlike New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who rides the subway most days, Dikshit travels around mostly in a chauffeur-driven car.

Like most Indian cities, Delhi’s public transport infrastructure is woefully inadequate.

Corruption – among the Delhi traffic policemen who prefer bribes to enforcing traffic rules and pulling up errant drivers – has made a bad situation worse.

The subway serves only a small part of the sprawling metropolis and the government fleet of 3,500 buses is simply not enough. Ergo, enter the badly regulated fleet of 4,500 privately-operated “killer” buses that has caused much grief over the last few years.

Blueline buses kill way more people than the state-run buses.

According to the NYT story, some 1,800 people die every year in traffic accidents in Delhi.

In response to the recent outcry, Dikshit’s administration is going through the motions of improving the safety of pedestrians and those riding the city buses.

Despite the current euphoria a lot of Indians have about their country’s future prospects, the pitiful infrastructure in Delhi and other cities serve as a reality check on India’s real prospects.

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