Cabs parked at a lot in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Sharma/Hindustan Times)
Cabs parked at a lot in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Sharma/Hindustan Times)

Day 1 of lockdown 4.0: Bleak response as public transport resumes in and around Chandigarh

Inter-state travel for cabs has been permitted in Chandigarh and Mohali, but in Panchkula, only intra-district travel is allowed for now.
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Srishti Jaswal, Yuvraj Kaushal and Dar Ovais, Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali
PUBLISHED ON MAY 20, 2020 12:50 AM IST

Even though fresh relaxations in the tricity have allowed for public transport to resume services, albeit maintaining social distancing, there were hardly any takers on Tuesday.

Many auto-rickshaws were found parked at the stands. A few inter-state CTU buses seen on the roads didn’t have any passengers.

Charanjit Singh, an auto driver based in Chandigarh, said, “I started the auto after two months today, but till 2pm, I could not find a single customer. It is heartbreaking to see such a response.”

Another driver, Raju Prasad, said that he had been surviving on food provided by the administration and loans from local vendors.

A Mohali-based Uber driver said, “The response has been poor. People are preferring their own transport over cabs.”

MANY DRIVERS HAVE LEFT

Ram Chander, an auto-rickshaw driver working in Sector 38, said, “In Sector 38, 12 auto drivers used to work, now only one or two are left. Most of them from Bihar and UP have left for their homes because there was no source of livelihood. Their auto-rickshaws are still here.”

“I stayed back because I have a loan to repay that I took to buy this auto. I thought that schools would reopen and I would make some money, but that hasn’t happened either.”

An Uber driver from Mohali said, “We do not have enough drivers and cars because many left after the lockdown began. Also, the yearly permits of many vehicles expired in March and they can begin services only after renewing the permits.”

INTERSTATE CAB OPERATIONS A CHAOS

Although both Ola and Uber became operational on Tuesday, many tricity residents faced trouble while trying to book interstate rides.

Junaid Maqbool, a student of Panjab University, said, “I tried booking an Uber for Mohali from Chandigarh, but it displayed an error message after which I took Ola.”

Many passengers said that cabs were operating within the district only. In lockdown 4.0, inter-state travel for cabs has been permitted in Chandigarh and Mohali, but in Panchkula, only intra-district travel is allowed for now.

NEW CAB DRIVING NORMS

Cab services have said the drivers will not travel to containment zones. Drivers will be provided with masks, sanitizers and disinfectants, the common surfaces like door handles and seats will be cleaned after every ride.

Ola, in an official statement, said that both drivers, as well as customers, will be given an option of cancelling a ride if the other is not wearing a mask.

Moreover, there will be no AC in cars and cashless payments will be encouraged.

Intra-district bus service resumed in Panchkula on Tuesday with nine buses to ply to Barwala, Raipur Rani, Naraingarh, Pinjore, Kalka and even to Ambala and Yamunanagar. However, on the first day there was poor response and most of the buses did not start in the absence of adequate passengers, said Ravinder Pathak, general manager, Haryana Roadways.

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