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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Karnataka unlock: Buses to operate with 50% capacity; Bengaluru metro services only on weekdays

In the capital city, around 2000 Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses are expected to hit the roads on Monday.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: June 21, 2021 7:29:05 am
Bengaluru: Commuters during a traffic jam amid COVID-induced lockdown in Bengaluru (PTI)

Public transport in Karnataka is set to make a comeback from Monday with the state government announcing several relaxations in restrictions that were put in place from April-end in a bid to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. While buses are allowed to operate across the state with 50 per cent capacity, Bengaluru metro services will be available during peak hours only on weekdays.

“Buses can operate with up to 50 per seating capacity,” Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced citing the decision to the falling Covid-19 test positivity rate discussions with his cabinet colleagues based on suggestions made by the Technical Advisory Committee.

In the capital city, around 2000 Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses are expected to hit the roads on Monday. “While over a thousand buses will ply along different routes in the morning another 800 will do so during the evening hours,” BMTC MD C Shikha told Indianexpress.com.

Shikha added that BMTC has made Covid tests mandatory for all staff who are yet to get the second dose of vaccines. “Testing camps are already underway in 10 depots since Saturday. Only staff with a negative RT-PCR report will be allowed to report for duty. However, those who have taken both doses can function normally,” she said.

The BMTC MD added that the buses would ply more frequently to facilitate travel to more people as the capacity in each bus is capped at 50 per cent. “While BMTC was collecting up to Rs 5 crore daily from tickets, this had come down to nearly zero for almost over a month and a half now. As services resume, we expect the financial burden to be lessened gradually,” she said.

As many as 17 Volvo buses are scheduled to complete 117 trips as part of the Vayu Vajra services connecting various points of the city from Kempegowda Bus Station (Majestic) and Electronic City. To enable smooth travel for monthly pass holders, the Corporation has also decided to extend the validity of passes issued during April this year to July 8. “Digital Ticketing (QR code-based) system will be provided in all buses,” BMTC officials added.

Vehicles stuck in a traffic jam at Townhall circle after authorities announced relaxations in COVID-19 lockdown, in Bengaluru. (PTI)

Meanwhile, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has decided to operate services based on passenger demand. “As we plan to begin on Monday with services on routes which have high ridership usually, the schedules will be tweaked based on passenger demand experienced in the first few days,” a senior official said. Like other state-run corporations, KSRTC will also seek government aid to overcome losses experienced due to the Covid crisis, “at least till services resume in a full-fledged manner,” the official added.

Further, KSRTC has clarified that it will commence local and inter-district long route bus operations with effect from June 21 based on traffic density and need except in the Mysuru district. “Initially, it is planned to operate about 3000 buses. Regarding inter-state operations, a decision will be taken in the coming days keeping in view the guidelines of the respective states,” the Chief Traffic Manager (Operations) said in a statement issued on Sunday.

At the same time, state-run transport corporations have stressed that passengers will be allowed to board only if they “wear a mask properly” and that drivers and conductors have been directed to ensure so. Several private operators have decided to stay off services for a couple of more weeks until more relaxations are announced.

Bengaluru metro to operate during peak hours on weekdays

Metro services in Bengaluru will resume on Monday during peak hours and only during weekdays, to begin with, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) officials confirmed.

BMRCL officials informed that services on both Purple and Green Lines will be available from 7 am to 11 am and from 3 pm to 6 pm at a frequency of five minutes. “No metro services will be available on Saturdays and Sundays in view of the curfew of weekends,” it clarified. Namma Metro’s train frequency would be “revisited depending on passenger traffic,” officials added.

In a statement, BMRCL mentioned that cashless transactions would be preferred to avoid the spread of Covid-19. To begin with, Namma Metro aims to facilitate ticket purchases using smart cards only by online top-up allowed through mobile apps and the BMRCL portal. “Cash transactions are also permitted for the purchase of smart cards and its top-up at stations,” the statement read.

Namma Metro had ceased operations on April 28 when the government announced a fortnight-long lockdown as daily cases shot up to over 35,000 with the test positivity rate (TPR) increasing to 20 per cent and further. On Saturday, the TPR was 3.38 per cent as 5,815 new cases were reported from across the state.

A health worker administers a dose of the ‘Covaxin’ Covid-19 vaccine at a private hospital in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)

South Western Railway restores Express trains, MEMUs to facilitate intra-state travel

Operations of train services connecting Bengaluru to different parts of the state and between other key cities in the state have been restored in a bid to facilitate intra-state travel.

According to the South Western Railway (SWR), as many as 16 MEMU services and 14 Express trains have resumed operations from across the state. The MEMUs in the list include KSR Bengaluru – Mysuru Rajyarani Express (No.06567/06568), KSR Bengaluru – Mysuru – KSR Bengaluru Chamundi Express (No.06569 / 065670), KSR Bengaluru – Mysuru – KSR Bengaluru MEMU Express (06559/06560), KSR Bengaluru – Bangarpet – KSR Bengaluru MEMU Passenger (06561/06562), KSR Bengaluru – Kuppam – KSR Bengaluru MEMU Passenger (06291/06292), Kuppam – Bangarpet – Kuppam MEMU Passenger (06564/06563), Banaswadi – KSR Bengaluru MEMU Passenger (06565), and Yesvantpur – Banaswadi MEMU Passenger (06566), all on both directions.

The Express Special trains are being operated in both directions between Mysuru-KSR Bengaluru (06201/06202), KSR Bengaluru – Talguppa (06529/06530), KSR Bengaluru – Dharwad (02725/02726), KSR Bengaluru – Shivamogga Town (02089/02090), Yesvantpur – Latur (06583/06584), Yesvantpur – Bidar (06271/06272), and Mysuru – Bagalkot (07307/07308).

“All passengers are requested to adhere strictly to Covid -19 norms of the central/state government: wear mask, sanitize hands frequently, and maintain social distancing,” SWR reminded in a statement.

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