New Delhi: In a major boost to public transport in nation capital, an efficient and better quality cluster bus service based on public-private partnership has started plying on Delhi roads from Thursday.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit flagged off the first cluster of 17 orange buses. This is the first time that private players have been roped in for public transport services. The orange-coloured buses have been placed in the BRT corridor and are set to replace the ‘killer’ blueline buses.

“The cluster service will improve the public transport facilities in Delhi and people will now have better road transport options in the capital,” said Sheila Dikshit.

The bus routes in the city are divided into 17 clusters. Every group will have two buses and a private company will look after the operations.

The Delhi government is said to have appointed Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System (DIMTS) for smooth operations of the orange buses.

These buses will be equipped with GPS so that their movement could be tracked by the Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) on real-time basis.

Electronic ticketing machines (ETM) will be used as part of the Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS).

Like Delhi Metro, these buses will give information on approaching bus stands, expected time of arrival, etc.

The responsibility of running first cluster of buses has been entrusted with Star Bus Private Limited which will operate 231 buses on 32 routes of south Delhi.

These buses will be operated under per kilometer scheme. There are total 17 clusters in which around 4400 buses will hit the roads. They will ply on 657 city routes.