The resurgence of rising coronavirus infections in the city has forced the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) to reduce occupancy in its buses, with the transport body announcing on Friday that it will not allow ‘standing passengers’ in its buses anymore.
PMPML operations were suspended in March 2020 after a national lockdown came into effect. PMPML buses remained off the road– except to provide transport emergency staff and take migrant workers to the railway station– until September 3 2020, when the state government allowed it to operate at 50 per cent occupancy. From November, the transport body started full-scale operations and with the return of migrant workers to the city, the buses have started to ply jampacked as they did during pre-Covid times. With the growing number of Covid cases in the city, the transport body has now asked its staffers to not allow ‘standing passengers’ so as to minimise the physical contact among passengers.
“We have received a request from PMC commissioner to take precautions in light of the rising cases. Considering the situation, we have directed our conductors to now allow standing passengers. Apart from this, they have been asked to ensure every passenger wears a mask, the bus has a sanitiser aboard and passengers maintain social distancing while travelling,” said PMPML Chairman and Managing Director Rajendra Jagtap.
As per officials, various PMPML buses have varying seating capacities – ranging from 32 to 54. Presently, the average occupancy per bus is about 35. Generally, a bus can carry about 20 per cent standing passengers of the seating capacity of the bus.
“To ensure the buses don’t get overly crowded or that passengers are not inconvenienced owing to new directives, we will run 50 more buses on busy routes from Monday,” Jagtap said.
The transport body, which has attracted criticism for mismanagement and financial losses, suffered a great extent owing to the lockdown. Recently, it has started some novel services to attract customers and has also started to exploit its land resources to generate alternate revenue.
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