COVID-19 in Mumbai: BEST to run buses at 100 per cent capacity
Move will bring much-needed respite to Mumbaikars who had to wait for hours in long queues to catch a bus
The Maharashtra government on Friday allowed 100 per cent capacity onboard BEST buses. mid-day on October 10 had questioned the curbs on capacity and stated that if MSRTC buses were allowed to ferry with 100 per cent capacity and private tourist buses, too, why was only BEST allowed to ferry at 50 per cent capacity.
Though people did not follow the 50 per cent norms for BEST and buses remained crowded as ever, the technicality had tied hands of the Undertaking, which did not allow full capacity commuters to board buses at starting points.
"This is how the government functions. The BEST Undertaking had sent a letter to the state government on September 18 for the permission and the government has allowed it on October 23 – over a month later. Between this period, it was the average Mumbaikar who suffered by spending two to three hours waiting in queues," BEST committee member Sunil Ganacharya said.
A letter signed by the Maharashtra state disaster management secretary accorded the permission to the Undertaking asking them to ensure that travel in the buses be allowed only if commuters were wearing a mask, maintaining COVID-19 protocols with directives to the BEST Undertaking to sanitize buses and contact areas.
Sources said that with the 50 per cent permission earlier, the reality on the ground was that in the name of this rule, many bus drivers got a chance to skip bus stops and harass passengers, leading to crowding and endless queues at bus stops.
BEST's official Twitter account confirmed the development and announced that the changes came into effect immediately and appealed to commuters to wear a mask always and all the way while travelling by public transport.
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