Proposal for restarting Delhi buses: 20 passengers, alternate seats, Aarogya Setu, cashless

Written by Sourav Roy Barman
| New Delhi |

Published: May 13, 2020 6:32:58 am

india lockdown, india coronavirus, US nationals in india, US citizens stuck in india, US embassy in India Currently, the only buses running on Delhi’s roads are those requisitioned by various government departments and agencies. (Express photo/Amit Mehra)

Allowing up to 20 passengers per bus, placing them in alternate seats, encouraging them to use smart cards and the Aarogya Setu app — a range of measures, being considered by authorities, are likely to be in place when public transport services resume in the capital. While the measures will be put in place only after a go-ahead from the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), the Delhi Transport Corporation and the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System — which collectively run over 5,500 buses — have drafted protocols that will be enforced once services are allowed.

A senior official said: “Not more than 20 persons will be allowed in a 40-seater bus. They will be seated in every alternate seat diagonally. Cashless transactions would be encouraged, but those not carrying smart cards will not be asked to deboard. Commuters will have to wear masks. Sanitisers will be placed inside. And there is also a suggestion to make Aarogya Setu app compulsory for every passenger.”

Currently, the only buses running on Delhi’s roads are those requisitioned by various government departments and agencies. With the entire city categorised as a red zone, all modes of public transport remain suspended.

However, with the Delhi government making a strong pitch for resumption of commercial activities across the city, barring containment zones, transport authorities are also gearing up to restart services in the next few days, officials said, adding that review meetings have already been held in this regard. The daily average ridership in public buses is around 40 lakh in the city.

“As of now, it has been decided that buses will run. Not doing so will only cause more crowding as buses will run at 50% capacity only. Passengers will be requested by marshals and conductors to not board buses carrying over 20 people. It will be challenging, considering Delhi is already short of over 5,000 buses,” said an official.

Over the last few months, the number of cluster buses, owned by private players and managed by DIMTS, have steadily risen. However, DTC’s fleet has shrunk with phasing off of old buses and no additions, leaving not more than 5,500 public buses to be operated on a daily basis.

Separate protocols on sanitisation of buses are also being worked out. “Buses are likely to be sanitised after every trip,” said an official. Some measures form part of the Central Road Research Institute’s (CSIR-CRRI) recommendations, which have been shared with all states.

Right before the lockdown, Delhi Metro had announced that its services would be available for six hours a day. In an advisory, it emphasised on the need for commuters to maintain at least a one-metre gap between each other inside trains and at stations.

“Standing passengers will not be allowed and alternate seats to be left vacant,” it had announced, adding that random thermal scanning of passengers will be carried out at all Metro stations.

Later, CISF prepared an SOP, outlining steps to be undertaken after resumption of Metro services such as barring people with flu-like symptoms, frisking from a distance, and making use of Aarogya Setu app compulsory.

Officials also said no decision has been taken on services of auto, taxis, gramin sewas and e-rickshaws yet. “The MHA circulars will be followed. Taxi services are allowed in orange and green zones with two passengers on board. Same can be applied in case of autos. Allowing sharing services such as car pooling is unlikely. Similarly, gramin sewas and e-rickshaws are also shared transit options. But in this case, livelihoods of drivers must also be considered,” said an official.

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