As the only form of public transport permitted to ply on city’s roads, the DTC is trying to streamline the crowd on buses after struggling with heavy footfall on day one of the lockdown. According to the directives issued by the Delhi government, Metro services have been suspended, as have all private cabs, including Uber and Ola, as well as autos and e-rickshaws.
While DTC buses are the only mode of public transport operating, on Monday, only 25% of the fleet — which is less than 1,000 buses — were on the street.
“On normal days, after eight hours of service, a bus on any given route collects around Rs 1,500 through tickets. But on Monday, there was so much overcrowding that almost every bus collected over Rs 4,500 through tickets,” said a DTC employee.
On Tuesday, the number of buses was increased to 50% of the fleet, around 2,000 buses. This, along with stricter enforcement of the lockdown, led to a substantial relief.
On Tuesday, the DTC also issued an order that all buses should have stickers on their windscreens stating they are for “staff of essential services only and on government duty”.
Conductors have been tasked with checking the official identity cards of all passengers before allowing them to enter.
Each bus has a driver, a conductor and a marshall. “We ave not been provided with gloves, masks or hand sanitiser. Whoever has any of these bought it themselves. There is a lot of contact in buses — just to move around, and in the buying and selling of tickets. As we are working while everything else is closed down, there should be some measures for our safety,” said Manoj Sharma, president of the DTC workers’ union.
“With police also enforcing the lockdown more strictly, we are seeing some relief to the system. We also issued instructions to all depot managers on Tuesday to purchase masks and sanitisers, and distribute these to personnel on buses,” said DTC spokesperson R S Minhas.
Other public transport providers, meanwhile, find themselves in a tough position.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gopal sat in his cycle rickshaw, waiting for customers on a deserted main road in South Delhi. “Police have asked me to leave many times, but I need to look after my wife and two children,” he said.
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