Bus Services To Start In Jharkhand, Rules Set For Passengers, Drivers; Fares To Increase.

Government of Jharkhand has given permission to start bus services outside the containment zones. The directive issued states that after the public transport starts, bus owners, passengers, bus drivers and conductors would have to follow the rules and conditions which have been set by the Government of Jharkhand. Transport Department, Jharkhand Government has said that no corona positive person will be allowed to travel in buses. People whose samples have been taken for corona examination but results have not come through would also not be allowed to travel in buses. Only after their report comes negative will they be allowed to use public transport. It will be mandatory for those travelling on the bus to wear a mask or face cover and gloves. People can also apply a face shield. It will be mandatory for the driver and conductor to wear a face shield with a mask. Passengers on the bus will have to follow social distancing. They have to take care of social distance while climbing, descending and even while sitting in the bus.

The transport department has made it clear that the buses can run only on the routes for which they have got permits. The buses will only stop at stands and stops. If non-compliance to any of the rules is noticed, action will be taken under the Disaster Management Act and Motor Vehicles Act. Bus owners have also been asked to make arrangements to check the temperature of passengers with help of thermal scanners. People with higher than normal temperatures will not be allowed to travel. No driver or passenger will be allowed to smoke during the journey. There will also be a complete ban on paan, gutkha and khaini. During the journey, people are expected not to touch the mouth, eyes, nose, ears etc. unnecessarily with hands. Spitting anywhere in public places will invite legal action. Passengers and drivers will have to download the Aarogya Setu app on their smartphones and always keep it on.

The directive of the transport department has made it mandatory to keep spray sanitizer in buses. Every time before a new passenger uses a seat, it will need to be sanitized. Also, the entire bus has to be disinfected with chemicals. Passengers will not exit through the same gate through which they entered the bus i.e. entry and exit doors have to be kept separate. The transport department has directed that the number of passengers travelling in the bus will always be half of its capacity. This would mean only 26 passengers will be able to board a 52-seat bus, while 24 passengers in a 48-seat bus, 16 passengers in a 32-seat bus, 11 in a 22-seat minibus and 6 passengers in a 12-seat cab/Omni bus. Not only this, but the bus driver also has to enter the information of every passenger in the passenger register, so that contact tracing can be helped.

Following the guidelines issued for the movement of buses, the Jharkhand Bus Owners Association has given indications that fares may increase. The organization’s president Sachidanand Singh said that when lockdown started, the price of diesel per litre was around Rs 62 which has now gone up to Rs 80. He said that fares will not be doubled but will definitely increase. Also, bus owners have spent a lot in the maintenance of buses and paying the workers for more than 5 months. While the same cannot be compensated by fares but there should be such an arrangement for income so that the bus operator can pay his staff. Bus owners in all districts have been asked to meet their deputy Deputy Commissioners and submit memorandum while urging them to cooperate by informing them about the increase of fare. Sachchidanand Singh said that the fares could go up by 25%.

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