Deadline for middle doors in luxury buses may be extended

At a meeting with Ramalinga Reddy today, private operators will seek more time

Deadline for middle doors in luxury buses may be extended

The State government may extend the February 20 deadline for installing middle doors in luxury buses as many private operators have not even installed the emergency exits in their vehicles, as required of them following the twin Volvo accidents last year.

While the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which has about 490 Volvo and 30 Mercedes buses in its fleet, has almost completed installing emergency exits on the right side of the buses, private operators, who own a fleet of about 450 Volvo buses, are planning to seek more time from the government for installing middle doors in their vehicles.

“They (private bus operators) have been seeking an appointment with me but I have not been able to oblige them because of my busy schedule,” Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy told Deccan Herald. “They will meet me on Monday. If they cite genuine reasons for not being able to meet the deadline, we may give them a week or two more. We’ll decide it tomorrow.”

A bus operator in the City, who owns a fleet of six luxury buses, said on the condition of anonymity that most operators found it difficult to get the middle doors installed as it entailed taking the buses off roads for at least a week or 10 days, which was not possible for them.  Another operator, who owns a fleet of over a dozen luxury multi-axle buses, said a clear picture would emerge only after their meeting with the minister.

Besides the high cost and time involved in making the changes, private operators do not have their own workshops, unlike the KSRTC, where they can get the changes done conveniently. In 2013, the transport department had issued a directive, making it mandatory for operators to instal exit doors in all their luxury buses. The directive followed the two separate Volvo fire accidents which claimed a total of 52 lives.

A former transport department official said that Volvo had not installed emergency exit doors between 2003 and 2006, as mandated by the then Rule 128 (4) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989. The rule also provided for an emergency exit at the rear windscreen, which Volvo claims to have adhered to. But this exit was at least nine feet above the ground from outside, making it very difficult for passengers to jump out during an accident.

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