Passengers could occupy all seats in Delhi buses from Nov 1: Minister

Topics Coronavirus | Delhi | DTC buses

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot on Saturday said passengers can travel on all seats of public transport buses from November 1, and cautioned that travellers will have to compulsorily wear face masks and maintain physical distancing.

Gahlot, however, said no passengers will be allowed to travel in standing position.

With the rise in number of COVID-19 cases, Delhi government had in May fixed the number of maximum passenger in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Cluster scheme buses to 20.

Lt Governor Anil Baijal, who is the chairman of Delhi Disaster Management Authority, (DDMA) recently gave approval to Delhi government's proposal to run the public transport buses with full seating capacity.

The DDMA, in its order issued by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev on Sunday, said movement of buses will be permitted on trial basis up to November 8 or till further orders, whichever is earlier, subject to the condition that no passenger will be allowed to travel in a standing position, without mask and all other stipulations of standard operating procedure.

In a tweet, Gahlot said bus travellers will require to wear face masks and appealed to people to observe proper physical distancing in view of the COVID-19 threat.

"The passengers can travel on all the seats of buses from tomorrow.No passenger, however, will be allowed to travel in standing position. Wearing mask is compulsory and I appeal to all the travellers to maintain social distance to check the spread of Corona virus," Gahlot tweeted.

As per the SOP, in case the number of persons boarding the bus is more than seating capacity, the driver and conductor will request the extra passengers to de-board with the help of marshal, if available.

In case the extra passengers refuse to comply with the order, the driver and conductor will seek police assistance, it said.

In case the driver of any DTC or Cluster bus is found carrying passengers more than the vehicle's seating capacity, strict disciplinary action will be taken against him and he will also be liable for prosecution action under Disaster Management Act 2005, it added.

The DDMA also directed the Transport commissioner and managing directors of DTC and DIMTS to ensure strict compliance of its order, saying disciplinary proceedings will be initiated against the driver and the conductor of the bus, and responsibility will be fixed of the depot manager concerned for supervisory lapses.

With the opening of various economic activities and government and private establishments in the city, people were forced to wait in long queues often at crowded bus stands due to restricted number of passengers in buses.

The number of DTC and Cluster buses seat up to 40 passengers. There are around 3,800 buses run by the DTC and over 2,600 run under Cluster scheme of Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System.

The DDMA chairman had also approved the proposal of the Transport department to resume inter-state bus service.

The inter-state bus services was stopped after the imposition of lockdown in March, resulting in shutting down of inter-state bus terminals at Anand Vihar, Sarai Kale Khan and Kashmiri Gate.

The Transport department is preparing a standard operating procedure for opening the inter-state bus services. It is expected to begin next week, officials said.

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