|From South China Sunday Morning Post, Sunday Oct. 20,
Police to put brakes on Bloodline Buses by
India Correspondent John Zubrzycki
"The Indian capitals killer buses have been given strict
orders right from top - do not overtake.
The notorious private buses are responsible for the deaths of hundreds
of commuters in accidents each year and the authorities believe their new directive will
put the brakes on the rising road toll.
The new traffic regulations that came into effect on Tuesday, also
empower Delhi police officers to suspend the permits of buses involved in accidents.
Although the city has the best roads in the country, it also leads in
the number of fatalities.
Nearly 2,000 people died in 6,000 serious accidents on New Delhis
roads last year.
New Delhi has nearly as many vehicles as Bombay, Calcutta and Madras
A host of new models is set to hit the roads in the next six months and
will swell the vehicle population to more than 2.5 million by the year 2000.
By far the worst culprits, accounting for nearly one in five fatalities,
are the citys Red Line buses.
Hardly a day passes without one of the 4,000 privately operated vehicles
being involved in a fatal accident.
Terrorized commuters regularly take revenge by burning buses and
lynching drivers, but in the absence of any better mass transport system, hapless
passengers have little or no choice but to board another "Bloodline".
Alarmed by the rising apprehension of travelers, the Delhi Government
last year ordered the blood-red buses to be repainted an Oxford blue, believing that the
more sober color schemes would calm the nerves of commuters.
Previous attempts to tame private buses, such as random speed and
license checks, have had little effect.
A "quick impact" action plan, involving an increase in police
numbers, a rise in fines for traffic offenses, most of which were fixed a quarter of a
century ago, and an education campaign for road users, is still on the drawing board.
The new regulations on overtaking are meant to ease jamming at bus stops
and prevent often-fatal injuries to passengers hanging from bus doors.
Three days after the regulations took effect, however, the scene on
Delhis streets was the same sorry chaos it had always been."