Updated: January 19, 2022 10:54:20 am
A day after the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) said it will not allow unvaccinated commuters to travel in its buses, Tuesday it said it will make an exception to the rule for children.
PMPML traffic manager Dattatray Zende said, “Our drive started Monday. On the first day, we warned commuters that if they don’t produce vaccination certificates, they will be deboarded. Today (Tuesday) we have deboarded seven commuters so far for not carrying vaccination certificates with them. A strict implementation of the norm has started.”
Zende said since vaccination of children from 15 to 18 years has just started this month, PMPML has made an exception in their case.
Around seven lakh people commute in the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) buses each day. The vast number of commuters means that most buses are jam packed, leaving no scope for social distancing while travelling. “Thus, after a surge in the Covid-19 cases in the city, along with measures like compulsory masking, PMPML made it mandatory to carry vaccination certificates,” an official said.
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Speaking about the safety measures, Deepak G, a PMPML bus conductor on the Swargate to Pune station route, said, “We continuously instruct passengers to wear masks properly and make sure that everyone in the bus is masked up all the time. Those who do not have a mask are not allowed to board the buses.”
He further said that it was necessary to allow only fully-vaccinated commuters to travel but expressed concerns on the possibility of checking the certificates of every single commuter.
Meanwhile, commuters who travel on busier routes are apprehensive about their safety. “I have minimised the use of public transport after the rise in Covid cases. I only travel in buses if necessary,” said Saurabh Pawar, a commuter.
Due to the fear of Covid, the total number of passengers has also reduced. “When the cases were low during the end of last year, the buses used to be jam packed. But in the last few days, there has been a reduction in the number of travellers,” said Naineshwar Gade, a PMPML bus conductor.
Officials also mentioned that due to the drop in ridership, PMPML slashed the total number of buses by 20 per cent.
Commuters, however, feel that the buses are as crowded as they used to be. So, while there is a constant threat of getting infected, many are forced to travel in crowded buses in order to reach their workplaces. “We do get worried about contracting the virus while travelling in overcrowded buses but this is the only affordable source for many of us to travel to our workplaces. We do not have a choice,” said Ashok Salunke.
Nupur Khale, a regular commuter of PMPML buses, believes that while steps like compulsory masking and vaccinations are appreciable, the authorities should do more to ensure the safety of passengers.
“In the current situation, it is important that the buses are not overcrowded. For this, the authorities should increase the number of buses on all the important routes,” Khale said.
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