Covid-19 lockdown: Public transport may resume soon, says Nitin Gadkari
A ban on regular air, rail travel and interstate transport remained as the Centre extended the lockdown until May 17 last week. Taxi and cab aggregators were allowed to operate with two passengers even as inter and intra-district buses remain prohibited in orange zones.Updated: May 07, 2020, 05:17 IST
Public transport may resume soon with measures related to social distancing and hygiene in place as the resumption along with reopening of highways will go a long way in instilling confidence among the public, Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said Wednesday.
In his address to Bus & Car Operators Confederation Of India members via video conferencing, Gadkari said a standard operating procedure will have to be drafted for operating public transport with social distancing norms and for adopting measures like hand wash, sanitising, face masks, etc.
Public transport has been suspended across the country since March when the ongoing lockdown was imposed to ensure social distancing to check the Covid-19 spread. The Centre has made an exception for the operation of bus and train services to enable movement of the stranded people.
A ban on regular air, rail travel and interstate transport remained as the Centre extended the lockdown until May 17 last week. Taxi and cab aggregators were allowed to operate with two passengers even as inter and intra-district buses remain prohibited in orange zones.
In a statement, the Union road transport and highways ministry said Gadkari assured the operators that the government is aware of their problems and will support them to mitigate their issues.
Gadkari said his ministry was looking at adopting the ‘London model’ of public transport, which will involve promotion of private investment in the sector. He added the pandemic has presented India an opportunity to seek global investments from firms looking to exit the Chinese market.
The confederation members made suggestions like extending interest payment exemptions, restarting public transport, and deferring state taxes, etc.
All Indian Motor Transport Congress president Kultaran Singh Atwal said the transport sector was facing a severe downturn due to persistent lockdown. He said a majority of operators are small and unable to sustain the financial pressure. “The government must extend a helping hand to more than 200 million people dependent on this sector...”