Poll code: More time for installing exits in Volvos

Poll code: More time for installing exits in Volvos

The model code of conduct seems to have come as a blessing in disguise for the State’s private operators who want the government to give them more time for installing emergency exits in their Volvo buses.

The deadline for installing the emergency exits ended in the last week of February. Bus operators had sought an appointment with the Transport Minister, Ramalinga Reddy, but he could not oblige them citing the legislature in session then.

The matter has dragged on since. Even officials of the transport department were not authorised to decide on the operators’ request as the directive about the emergency exits was issued by the minister in the aftermath of the two bus infernos last year, in which 52 people had been killed.

The minister, on his part, failed to convene a meeting with the operators later as the schedule for elections was announced.

Now, much to the relief of the operators, the decision on their request has been withheld, which means the government would not act against them for the time being for not meeting the deadline.

Transport Commissioner K Amaranarayna said that the matter was not likely to be decided until the elections were over.

“The KSRTC has installed the exits in its buses. Some private operators have also done so,” he explained to Deccan Herald. “As there are not many workshops where exits are installed in the buses, the process is slow but the private operators have taken it seriously. As the minister could not meet the operators, we will have to wait for the elections to get over.”

The KSRTC, which has a fleet of about 490 Volvo and 30 Mercedes buses, installed the emergency exits on the right side of the buses. Private operators have a fleet of about 450 Volvo buses.

Not feasible

A private operator in the City, who owns six luxury buses, said on the condition of anonymity that most of them found it difficult to get the middle doors installed as it entailed taking the vehicles off road for at least a week or 10 days, which was not economically feasible for them.

Another operator, who owns a fleet of over a dozen multi-axle buses, said that now that the model code of conduct was enforced and they could not meet the minister, they would make most of the time to try and get over with the process.

Besides the high cost and time involved in making the changes, private operators complain of not having their own workshops — unlike the KSRTC — where they can get the changes done conveniently.

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.

Nine feet above

The rule also provided for an emergency exit at the rear windscreen, which Volvo claims to have followed.

But this exit was at least nine feet above the ground from outside, making it very difficult for passengers to jump out of the vehicle during an accident.

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