Public transport system in Delhi is very poor when compared with other metropolitan cities. Traveling in a DTC bus or a blue line bus during peak hours is really nerve rattling experience. Unlike other cities, Delhi does not have mass rapid transport system. Due to absence of a reliable convenient and efficient transport system office goers in Delhi are compelled to have their own arrangement to commute to their office with comfort. Yes, they have chartered their own conveyance. Here comes the concept of Chartered Buses. This is an unique phenomenon which exists only in Delhi.
Once you become a member your seat is assured. By boarding the bus, you can ensure that your well-pressed dresses are intact till you reach home in the evening. There is no anxiety over whether the conductor remembers your balance before you get down as you pay your monthly charges in advance.
Unlike the conductors in blue line buses, if the conductor is well behaved and speaks English, don’t be surprised; he may be a highly qualified employee of Central Government or any PSUs. Sometimes, he happens to be your neighbour (!).
Once your enter into the bus you feel a homely atmosphere, as all the faces are familiar to you. You get ‘Prasad’ on every Tuesday. You may get special gifts during festivals if your are a regular member.
Your absence may not be felt in your office, but it is certainly being felt by your co-members. This is the place where from politics to recent developments in information technology are discussed in threadbare. It also acts as a symbol of equality as it is a common scene that a subordinate staff is sharing jokes with a highly placed official.
If the traffic police stops the bus enroute, the conductor immediately gets down with some cash in hand. They call it as monthly tips. They have to dole out some special tips during festivals like Deepavali.
While getting down from the bus in hurry, if you slip either wallet or any other belongings in the bus, don’t be in panic. Next time when you board the bus, you will get your things safely as the same would have been picked up either by your co-members or the conductor of the bus and would be handed over to you promptly.
Some members always occupy the last row of the bus. They are called back benchers. They engage themselves in playing cards by placing a brief case on their lap. Passengers who are not members are called guests. Actually these guest are paying guests and they have to vacate their seat if any member demand so.
Some members used to sleep throughout the journey. They are called sleeping beauties.
If anybody pretended reading news paper seriously by burying his face in the news paper, he might certainly be a causal visitor, he is doing so to avoid getting ejected from the seat by any regular member.
These are all only a tip of an ice berg. If you want to experience more, travel atleast once in a chartered bus. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
(This article published in 2002 Durga Puja Magazine of Kendriya Vihar)