Delhi mulls hiring private buses for public transport
Following reports of social distancing norms being flouted inside Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses, and at bus stops, the state government is mulling to hire private buses on a contract basis to cater to the increasing demand.Updated: May 21, 2020 01:51 IST
Following reports of social distancing norms being flouted inside Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses, and at bus stops, the state government is mulling to hire private buses on a contract basis to cater to the increasing demand.
To ensure strict compliance of the number of passengers permitted in each vehicle, the government also tweaked its standard operating procedure (SoP) on Wednesday, to include a clause on initiating penal action against conductors, marshals, drivers and even passengers for non-compliance.
Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said bus drivers, conductors and marshals have been strictly instructed not to admit more than 20 passengers per bus. “Extra passengers boarding the buses will be first requested to de-board. If any passenger refuses to de-board, a police complaint at 100 will be registered. If there is any violation of these instructions then stringent action will be taken against the driver, conductor, and marshal,” he said.
Gahlot said his department is also considering hiring private buses to strengthen the public transport system, which is currently not able to cater to the demand, keeping restrictions in mind. The Delhi Metro, which used to ferry at least 2.7 million passengers a day, has been shut for more than 50 days now.
A senior government official said that the initial report on the first two days of the relaxations under lockdown 4.0 in Delhi suggests that the number of people at the bus stops was much higher than the number that could be catered to by the services. “If things do not stabilise in a day or two, we will have to hire private buses like the government did during the odd-even road rationing drive. The government would pay the private bus operators at a decided per-kilometre rate. It would be beneficial for them as well, because they are currently suffering heavy losses as their buses are currently lying idle,” said the official, on condition of anonymity.
Around 2,000 DTC and cluster buses of the city’s fleet of 6,487 buses have been deployed for public transport. Over 1,400 DTC buses have been deployed on Covid-19 duty, for transportation of migrant workers and for maintaining law and order in the city.
Despite the high demand, the buses could ferry only about 1 lakh passengers on the first day, due to the restrictions. Usually, Delhi’s state-run buses ferry at least 40 people per bus, with a daily average ridership of over 3.2 million pre-Covid.
The transport minister called for that public cooperation, in wearing masks and practising social distancing. “The people must ensure that they will not violate the rules in autos, buses or bikes. If such a violation takes place, action will be taken,” Gahlot said.
He said that more cluster buses were on the roads on Wednesday, as drivers staying in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana reached Delhi a night before, to report to work.
As per the revised SoP for public transport, wearing masks is mandatory, but downloading the Aarogya Setu App is not compulsory. Sanitisers will be made available on every bus and after completion of each trip, it will be the responsibility of the conductor or the marshal to sanitise the seats and common points of contact. For para-transit vehicles such as autos, e-rickshaws and gramin sewas, the driver will have to carry a disinfectant solution and clean the seats and contact areas after dropping each passenger.