GUWAHATI, Aug 17 - With relaxation in lockdown norms, city bus service resumed today after the State government allowed plying of buses with 50 per cent of their total passenger intake capacity.
After a long gap, nearly 200 city buses plied on the city roads today. Although more than 1,000 buses are registered with the District Transport Office here, not all of them are functioning. There are altogether 690 private buses affiliated to the All Assam Motor Transport Association (AAMTA) plying in the city.
There were not many commuters waiting for the buses. Most of the city buses were plying with only 30 per cent of their total passenger capacity.
During the lockdown the bus services were stopped. Now that the vehicles have resumed plying, maintaining social distancing has become a major challenge.
�The public transport system has already been hit hard. Operating with 50 per cent intake capacity at a time when there has been a steep hike in fuel prices is a totally loss-making business. Due to the lockdown, the batteries of the buses have also run down. So the owners will need time to operate the buses,� secretary general of AAMTA Pradip Das said.
The AAMTA also demanded a hike in city bus fares. �Recently we met the Transport Minister in this regard. There was a hike in bus fares in December last year, but the hike has not been implemented in case of the city bus fares. The city buses will go off the road soon if there is no revised guideline for them,� Das added.
Added to the woes of the city bus operators, due to the COVID-19 pandemic scare, people have started opting for private modes of transportation.
Meanwhile, the transport department has allowed only 50 per cent buses to ply on the GS Road due to the ongoing construction activity. The remaining buses will ply on the national highway via Jalukbari. There are 80 buses plying on the Khanapara-Kachari route and 120 buses ply on the Basistha-Jalukbari route.
�The new rules will be implemented strictly for the next one week. There might be some changes thereafter. All the guidelines will remain unchanged for plying of the buses including keeping the doors shut while the bus is in motion, proper usage of entry and exit doors, etc.,� District Transport Officer Bapan Kalita said.
�Several city buses were seen flouting social distancing norms today and were warned. If the buses flout the rules set by the transport department then the department will penalise the buses with Rs 10,000 and will also cancel the permits,� Kalita added.