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Why Delhi's buses are so deadly: an economic analysis

At least 115 people were killed by Blueline buses in 2008. The Blueline's grim numbers stem entirely from two perverse economic incentives: the driver's salary is wholly dependant on how many fares he picks up, and each bus is in direct competition with every other bus on the route.

Blueline buses are not typically driven by their owners. Instead, thousands of drivers rent their buses from a smaller group of owners at a cost of three or four thousand rupees a day plus maintenance. With passengers paying between two and ten rupees a ride, drivers are forced to pick up a few hundred people before they can even begin to consider buying lunch.

[...] But with an estimated 2,200 Blueline buses careening across Delhi on any given day, it's no wonder the newspaper reports are almost identical every day. After an accident, the driver tries to flee, an angry mob beats him, the police impound the bus, the driver is thrown in jail, the owner of the bus is not mentioned. Sometimes the driver escapes, in which case the mob finds its release in setting fire to the bus.

And while the Delhi government has pledged to replace the Blueline with modern city-run buses in time for the Commonwealth Games, newspapers report of a cabal of "powerful people" who own the majority of the Bluelines, and who aren't going to let the city cut them out of the transit racket quite so easily.

This is essentially the same racket behind San Francisco's taxicab industry, except that apparently our local taxi drivers are shiftless and lazy, with no work ethic to speak of.

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I want to go to there.


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