Mumbai: 'Can't operate freely yet', claim state's private bus owners
Private bus owners claim government recommended 100 per cent passenger load in tourist buses, but there's no official okay yet; says industry still suffering in state while elsewhere in India it's almost back to normalcy
Online bookings for private passenger buses have picked up across the country, with over 3 lakh reservations done alone in October, however, the industry seems nowhere close to normalcy in the state due to restrictions on capacity and movement owing to the pandemic.
redBus, India's largest online ticketing platform, said they recorded over 3 lakh seat reservations across the country over the October 2 long weekend, and is the sign of the industry returning to normalcy. High demand has been seen in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which have surpassed pre-lockdown levels in bookings, partly due to limited availability of trains on key routes, they added.
Online booking doubles
redBus has witnessed a rise in first-time customers, with online transactions doubling to 21 per cent now from 11 per cent in pre-COVID-19 times.
redBus CEO Prakash Sangam, said, "The current phase is an important inflection point with a steady rise in demand for bus travel across the country. We expect this trend to continue with increase in economic activity, further relaxations in COVID-19 curbs, the upcoming festive season and also when colleges/universities reopen. On many routes, we have also seen a substitution of demand moving from trains to buses."
However, bus owners in Maharashtra lamented that they are still not allowed to resume freely. "Bus owners cannot do business. Since the past six months, the tax issue is still unresolved, the physical distancing norm is only in Maharashtra, and people have been coming here via other state buses. The transport commissioner had recommended 100 per cent passenger load in tourist buses, but the government is yet to give its official approval, leading to the suffering of the industry in Maharashtra," said Harsh Kotak, treasurer of Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India, and the secretary of Mumbai Bus Malak Sangathan.
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