NEW DELHI: Delhi’s only official Hop-On-Hop-Off (HOHO) sightseeing bus service will resume early next year with several new features and attractions. The tourism department of the Delhi government, which operates the facility, is planning to ring in changes including route rationalisation to revive the flagging interest of the users.
The earlier contract with the concessionaire ended in July. Senior officials of the department said that fresh tender inviting global players would be issued in December.
“Conditions aren’t favourable because of Covid pandemic. There may not be much response from the interested parties now. We will wait till the end of this year and then will go to a global tender.
We have done a lot of background work and several things are in the pipeline. We want an economically viable plan otherwise the project will not be sustainable,” said an official. The department had been planning to revamp the bus service - launched in October 2010 during the Commonwealth Games - for more than a year and proposed to add 80 more historic sites and tourist attractions to its network.
The service enables a tourist to get on and off the bus at different points of his choice. Based on a successful model operating in 35 countries, the service was launched with 15 buses. However, as its occupancy rates dipped to about 20 per cent, nine buses were withdrawn over the years.
Interpretation centres, fine dining restaurants with traditional interior and set up at significant historic buildings resembling the architecture and lifestyle of the period of their construction, recreational activities at Red Fort, and buggy rides at Rajpath were among few proposals to revive the service’s popularity.
During the winter season and on national holidays, the number of riders increases up to 50 per cent. As a step in line with HOHO’s revitalisation plan, the department plans to purchase new buses including a few ‘open deck’ buses to attract more riders.
“We have certain ambitious plans to promote tourism in the city but it is too early to start them. We are just waiting for the right time. Due to Covid, the budget has been withdrawn. The activities will resume as soon as the department receives funds,” said the official.
Proposed activities and facilities
Recreational Zone at the lawn behind Red Fort along the Ring Road, where costumes of King, Queen, Prince, and princess and also replica of peacock throne set up may be available for the tourist for photoshoot with the fort in backdrop.
Magic show and camel, elephant or horse-drawn buggy ride behind the Red Fort and at Rajpath but only on Sundays.
Fine dining restaurants offering ethnic cuisines at historic buildings where the décor and uniform of the staff will be created according to the customs and traditions prevailing during the time of their construction.
Interpretation Centre will set up by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) at Red Fort, Qutb Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and Purana Quila Air-continued bus shelters with adequate seating capacity.