GUWAHATI, May 1 - The Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) has recorded total seat occupancy of only 68 per cent out of the total applications for inter-district travel, a service that was initiated in the State from April 25, in view of problems faced by the people in travelling to other districts for urgent work during the ongoing lockdown.
The occupancy is low considering the fact that ASTC has arranged for travel in only 50 per cent of the buses� total capacity as per lockdown norms.
The corporation has issued 41,796 tickets till the seventh day of operation on May 1, against which only 28,447 passengers have turned up in batches for their designated travel schedules. It needs mention that the ASTC had received the applications for inter-district travel through 104 and the Government of Assam link. Altogether 1,820 buses have ferried the passengers to their respective destinations.
Attributing the less occupancy of seats to various reasons including issuance of e-passes and panic among people to book the seats from multiple mobile phones, ASTC Chairman Ashok Kumar Bhattarai told The Assam Tribune that initial panic among people to secure their seats though all possible means resulted in a surge of applications at multiple sources.
�When the service started on April 25, altogether 5,000 tickets were issued against which only 2,585 people travelled. On Day 2 also, only 7,630 passengers turned up against the issuance of 11,500 tickets. The trend continued on subsequent days as well,� he mentioned.
�While several passengers applied simultaneously for bus travel and private vehicle passes due to the prevailing uncertainties, some others used three to four mobile phones to book seats for one passenger,� Bhattarai added.
It needs mention that the entire process is being carried out as per guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the Home Ministry, ensuring social distancing.
Accordingly, only 50 per cent of the total number of seats has been used, which means only 15-16 passengers are sent in one bus. Besides, strict health screening is being done in the buses to avoid any chances of infection.
ASTC has taken necessary steps for passengers� convenience including providing city buses throughout Guwahati to bring passengers from their homes to the bus stops. For passengers outside Guwahati, it is coordinating with the respective district administrations so that travellers can be brought to the nearest bus stop and vice versa.
�Unlike in Delhi and Mumbai where chaotic situations were reported at the bus stops, we have been conducting the operation smoothly without breaking the lockdown norms,� added Bhattarai.