The Maharashtra government is hinting at restricting movement of people though public transportation would not be shut completely as part of new guidelines to fight Covid-19. There is no clarity on the guidelines for travelling in local trains.
The guidelines that came late Sunday night stated that all persons using public transport to compulsorily wear mask in a proper manner barring which fine of Rs 500 will be imposed on the offenders.
One of the biggest challenges would be to monitor movement of people and their transportation at large. For instance, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) that has played a pivotal role all through this pandemic will have to prevent standees inside its buses. Likewise the restrictions inside auto rickshaws and taxis too shall come in place and also inside long distance trains only passengers with confirmed tickets be allowed and no standees. Though there is no clarity on the ways of how local trains and metro rail will operate and follow the revised guidelines.
To begin with, the BEST officials on Sunday evening were trying to figure out ways to ensure that there isn’t overcrowding inside buses. On Sunday the government stated that they intend to put a stop to standees inside government and private buses. This would mean that the BEST will have to ensure that they restrict the entry into buses.
Currently they are having their conductors, ticket checking staff and even drivers wait at bus stops to issue tickets and even disallow other vehicles from parking next to the bus stops. The situation is such that buses are running full with people even hanging on the footboard in their 3700 bus fleet of which they operate around 3000 buses daily plus the 1200 odd buses on wet lease.
“We are still working out details on how it should be done,” said a BEST official. The bigger challenge is to monitor the wet lease buses which doesn’t have conductors inside and the drivers who work for private contractors, take as many passengers as possible. At present the BEST is ferrying at least 25 lakh passengers every day.
All public transport drivers and other staff coming into contact with the public to get vaccinated at the earliest, as per criteria of GOl and till vaccinated completely to carry negative corona result certificate valid upto 15 days. This rule will come into effect from April 10. For taxis and autos, however, if driver isolates himself or herself through a plastic sheet or otherwise he or she may be exempted from this requirement.
The chances for private buses to operate in a much better way are possible. This is because the private bus operators can monitor the intake of passengers and maintain 50 percent social distancing. More so, the app-based private bus operators are also gaining popularity as there is limited number of people travelling in it from point to point.
The state government is also asking to restrict people travelling in autos and taxis. Inside auto rickshaw maximum of two passengers and in taxis, 50 percent of its capacity will be permitted. In a 4-wheeler taxi, if any one person is not wearing mask, the offender and the driver of the taxi will be fined an amount of Rs 500 each. All vehicles need to be sanitized after every trip.
In case if any of the above are found to be without negative RTPCR Certificate/ without
being vaccinated as above, a fine of Rs 1000 will be levied. The unions are demanding that the government provides financial support to the drivers as this will affect their earnings. The railways have been asked to ensure that there are no standees inside long distance trains. Fine of Rs 500 to be levied in all trains for non-use of masks.
The Metro rail on Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar will continue to operate with 280 services. Sources said that they will wait for the detailed guidelines to come in and meanwhile they will observe the situation. They are also going to ask their staff to stop passengers from boarding beyond a point to maintain social distancing.