MSRTC, BEST will not allow standing travel in buses

MSRTC, BEST not to allow standing travel in buses from March 19

A man wearing a protective mask walks past a bus stop displaying preventive measures against the coronavirus in Mumbai. (Credit: Reuters)

With the coronavirus cases rising in Maharashtra, two big state-run public transport bodies MSRTC and BEST on Wednesday announced not allowing passengers to travel by standing in their buses from Thursday.

The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) took the decision to avoid crowding and enforce social distancing in their buses as part of measures to contain spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

As the number of persons testing positive to Covid-19 increased to 45 in the state and scores others admitted at isolation facilities, the state government decided to stop standing journey on buses operated by BEST (in Mumbai) and MSRTC (across the state).

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The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The government has also decided to reduce the load on public transport services, including suburban locals, to 50 per cent.

A senior BEST official said they are not going to allow any passenger to travel standing on their buses from Thursday morning and will do some changes in the operation depending upon the local needs.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases

"We are going to operate more buses on the crowded route considering the increased need on the routes. Hence, the buses on less crowded routes will be diverted there," he said.

With around 35 lakh daily commuters, BEST is the second biggest mode of public transport in Mumbai followed by suburban locals, which carry nearly 80 lakh passengers.

"Mumbaikars are requested not to travel standing in the BEST buses from tomorrow (March 19) onwards as a preventive measure against the prevailing #COVID19 situation in the city. #bestupdates #Mumbai," tweeted BEST.

MSRTC, which daily ferries around 65 lakh passengers across the state, decided to change seating arrangements besides stopping passengers from travelling standing in its buses.

According to a MSRTC release, they are going to allow passengers to sit on alternate seat and a single passenger restricted to per seat for maintaining distance between the passengers.

"Only 50 per cent passengers of a bus's total capacity will be allowed to board before the departure and nobody will be allowed to travel standing in the bus," said the MSRTC release.

The BEST official, however, said they are not going to adopt alternate sitting arrangement for maintaining distance between commuters.

Railway authorities, however, said as of now there is not plan of curtailing suburban services in the metropolis.

"We are not curtailing any suburban services," said a Western Railway spokesperson.

According Railway officials, theyhave already taken various measures to reduce crowd at stations and inside trains.

"We have already taken multiple steps for spreading awareness about COVID-19. These include campaigns through announcements inside train and at stations, posters inside trains and at stations, running of video clips on TV screens, vinyl wrapping of six EMU rakes with do's and don'ts message about COVID-19.

"Also, we have increased platform ticket rate at 172 stations from Rs 10 to 50 to discourage crowd entry in station premises," said Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, Central Railway.

He added they are also doing crowd monitoring, analysis and prompt action through CCTV cameras.

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