K'taka govt urges Centre to issue fresh guidelines on public transport services

Bengaluru, May 17 (PTI) Pitching for resumption of public transport services, the Karnataka government has requested Centre to issue new guidelines, as it pointed out that the ongoing lockdown has caused a financial loss of Rs 1,600 crore to four State Transport Undertakings (STUs).

In a letter to Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi has suggested recommendations for consideration, besides a request to discuss it with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The recommendations, include permission to deploy non-AC buses on scheduled routes to ensure adequacy of services; occupancy should be allowed upto seating capacity (without standees).

Also, operation of bus services to be allowed in a phased manner of one week; the crew should wear face mask and hand gloves; crew with health issues should not be deployed; the STUs should provide sanitizers in all buses.

While calling for making face masks mandatory for all passengers, it was suggested that only asymptomatic persons should be allowed to travel in public transport and central government may consider staggered working hours for various sectors to reduce peak hour traffic demand.

'Further, it is to bring to your kind notice 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,' Savadi, who also holds transport portfolio said.

Restrictions on public transport will lead to passenger commute by overcrowding in smaller vehicles like cars, maxicabs, goods tempos etc. which will adversely affect preventive measures, he said, as he requested Centre to issue fresh guidelines to states.

The four STUs in the state 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).

The four STUs put together hold a fleet of about 24,900 buses including 1,520 air conditioned buses and cover nearly 71 lakh kms per day and carry about 98 lakh passengers every single day.

Noting that the COVID-19 lockdown has brought regular bus operations to a grinding halt, Savadi said, 'It has been estimated that the lockdown has caused a financial loss of INR 1,600 crore to these four STUs.' Even post lockdown, operations and revenues won't reach its previous demand and supply patterns in the next six to eight months due to reduced economic activity and users' perceived risk of contacting coronavirus in public transport, he said. PTI KSU ROH ROH