Delhi Govt Allows Inter-state Buses to Ply Starting November 3 at 50% of Regular Capacity

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The Delhi government on Monday announced resumption of inter-state bus services from November 3 by allowing the three ISBTs here to operate at 50 per cent of their pre-COVID capacity. The move comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city with over 5,000 new cases being reported daily for the last few days.

Delhi Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said all precautions against the spread of COVID-19 have been put in place for resumption the inter-state bus services.

"As Delhi resumes Inter-state bus service on 03.11.20, from 3 ISBTs, we're ensuring all precautions/SOP are in place. Sanitization of buses at origin & at ISBTs, thermal screening of passengers & crew, Passengers to mandatorily wear mask, testing camps in case of any illness," he tweeted. In an order, the Delhi Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation (DTIDC) that operates the inter-state bus terminals (ISBTs) said the inter-state bus services will reopen at the Sarai Kale Khan, Kashmiri Gate and Anand Vihar ISBTs from November 3.

"The number of buses plying from the ISBTs shall not be more than 50 per cent of the pre-COVID capacity up to November 15," said the order. The concerned additional general managers of ISBTs will be responsible for implementation of the standard operating procedures prepared for resumption of the services.

The SOP stated, "It is advised that the buses entering the ISBTs should not be older than 2015 model in the wake of alarming situation of pollution in Delhi." The DTIDC may gradually reduce the age of the buses and ultimately allow the entry of only CNG, electric and BS VI standard buses at the three ISBTs, it said, advising bus operators to prepare accordingly. The SOP further stipulated that initially the number of buses from each state will be limited to 50 per cent of pre-COVID levels till November 15.

Passengers will have to mandatorily wear face mask and no standing passengers will be allowed in the buses. Social distancing will be ensured on the ground, boarding time, as well as inside the buses. The buses will be sanitized by the respective depots of bus operators at the point of origin and before departure from the respective ISBT. Thermal checking of both passengers and bus crew at boarding and at the point of entry to ISBTs will also be mandatory, it stated.

In addition to these measures, testing camps for rapid antigen tests and RT-PCR tests have also been set up at the ISBT's to deal with asymptomatic passengers identified through thermal screening. Gahlot reviewed the preparations made ahead of resumption of inter-state bus services in a meeting with officials.

"The safety of both passengers and staff along with crew are ofutmost priority to us. We've been carefully monitoring patterns of travelling since we resumed bus services, and even though inter-state travel is a challenge, we are ensuring sanitization at every point," he said. Apart from this, regular announcements and sensitization of passengers about COVID-19 precautions through audio visual communication is also being undertaken. Strict ban on use of gutka and other tobacco products will be enforced at the ISBT premises, he said.

The three ISBTs used to cater to daily 3,500 trips of inter-state buses from UP, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarkhand and other states, and 2,000 trips of local buses. The inter-state bus services were suspended with announcement of the lockdown due to spread of COVID-19, leading to shutting down of the ISBTs in March.