Coronavirus outbreak: Conductor-less buses to protect BEST staff

Updated: Apr 27, 2020, 08:53 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Move comes after a few staffers contract virus, union demands better protective gear

Travellers will be tasked with ensuring that everyone follows social distancing on the bus. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Travellers will be tasked with ensuring that everyone follows social distancing on the bus. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Alarmed by a few COVID-19 cases among its workforce, BEST has redrawn its emergency buses plan and re-listed a few buses that will now run without conductors. The new plan has 977 fewer conductors.

BEST has been running 1,776 buses on various routes for essential workers. These need 3,864 bus conductors on duty. The new plan has 2,887 bus conductors.

"It is important to protect staff and a few buses shall now run with minimal available staff — that is, just the driver," a senior official said, adding that fares will be collected at the end of the journey.

"A new action plan has come into effect from April 25, where bus conductors won't be present and it will be the responsibility of the travellers to maintain social distancing," he said.

In case of buses in use by private hospital staff, respective depot managers will send conductors after the completion of the trip to collect fares. For Mantralaya buses, the staffers must take up the responsibility to ensure social distancing. Other buses that will go conductor-less are workmen special (staff buses), buses for BMC at ward level, buses provided for accommodation hotel arrangement plans, police special buses and food distribution buses, and reserved buses. Buses going beyond Mumbai at night will have conductors.

BEST Kamgar Sanghtana general secretary Jagnarayan Kahar challenged the decision saying the Undertaking is trying to bring in one-man operations under the cover of COVID-19 precautions. "There are better ways to formulate a plan and provide all employees adequate protection at work instead of reducing numbers," he said.

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