In a move aimed at providing relief to daily commuters, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation will operate buses at their full seating capacity, starting from September 18. State Minister of Transport Anil Parab made the announcement on Twitter, saying the red buses were all set to run packed to full seating capacity, with due adherence to precautions. The announcement came a week after passengers protested infrequent public transport services in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The state-run service suspended operations on March 23, following the imposition of the nationwide lockdown.

However, it had resumed intra-district operations from May 22 and inter-district services from August 20, with buses operating at 50 per cent seating capacity. "The increase in seating will ease the daily plight of commuters and improve frequency as well," MSRTC chief Shekhar Channe told The Free Press Journal. The buses would be fumigated each time they leave the depot of origin and after reaching the destination, Channe informed. Passengers would have to wear masks throughout the journey, failing which they wouldn't be allowed to enter the bus, he said. A senior MSRTC official stated, passengers displaying visible symptoms (like coughing and sneezing) would be barred from boarding.

"Nearly 500 MSRTC buses are plying in the MMR every day and we have a daily ridership of 50,000. The increase in seating capacity will boost ridership by at least 40 per cent," Channe said. Currently, 5,500 of the 18,000-strong fleet of MSRTC buses are in operation.

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Free Press Journal