Karnataka Transport Minister requests Nitin Gadkari to grant permission for public transport in new lockdown guidelines

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], May 17 (ANI): Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister Laxman Savadi on Sunday wrote to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari requesting to issue new lockdown guidelines including permission to operate public transport and said the lockdown has caused a financial loss of Rs 16,00 crore to all four Karnataka Transport Undertakings.

In view of these problems, the state Transport Minister requested Gadkari to permit the deployment of Non-AC buses on scheduled routes to ensure the adequacy of services.

The four State Transport Undertakings (STUs) in Karnataka which are providing bus-based public transport services within the state and to the neighbouring states are Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC), North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC).

"KSRTC, NWKRTC and NEKRTC operate buses for mofussil services i.e. Interdistrict, intradistrict and interstate, whereas BMTC operates only in urban and suburban areas in the city of Bengaluru. The four STUs put together hold a fleet of about 24,900 buses including 1,520 air-conditioned buses and operate about 71.00 lakh km. per day and carries about 98.00 lakh passengers every single day," Savadi outlined in the letter.

The Minister said due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown that ensued have brought regular bus operations and functioning to a grinding halt.

"This has caused a devastating impact on the operations of all the four STUs due to the combination of lack of revenue and continuing fixed costs such as salaries and pensions to staff, payables against existing loans etc. It has been estimated that the lockdown has caused a financial loss of INR 1,600/- crore to these four STUs," he added.

Savadi said even after post-COVID lockdown, operations and revenues won't reach its previous demand& supply patterns in the next six to eight months due to reduced economic activity and users' perceived risk of contacting COVID in public transport.

In addition to that, "occupancy should be allowed up to seating capacity (without standees). This is essential to meet minimal demand," he said in the letter.

"The crew should wear facemask and hand gloves. The crew with health issues should not be deployed. The face masks should be made mandatory for all the passengers. Only asymptomatic persons should be allowed to travel in public transport. The Government of India may consider staggering working hours for various sectors to reduce peak hour traffic demand," the minister listed out these recommendations in the letter.

Savadi said that with social distancing norm of reduced seating capacity in public transport, it will not be possible to provide transport facility to all the daily passengers. This will create demand for more buses, which cannot be met.

"Restrictions on public transport will lead to passenger commute by overcrowding in smaller vehicles like cars, maxi cabs, goods tempos etc. which will adversely affect preventive measures," he added.

Therefore, Savadi requested Union Minister to look into the above matter and issue fresh guidelines to all the states / UT's. (ANI)