October 13, 2020 10:57:41 pm
The Himachal Pradesh government has decided resume inter-state bus service from Wednesday.
After nearly seven months of suspension, the inter-state bus service will be restarted in phases. In the first phase, the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) will run buses on 25 inter-state routes, state Transport Minister Bikram Singh said here Tuesday.
The 25 routes include stations in the neighbouring states such as Chandigarh, Haridwar, Ambala, Ludhiana, Pathankot and Hoshiarpur.
Singh said that the resumption includes night bus service, but only non-airconditioned buses will ply for now. “The state government has taken this decision in view of the upcoming Navratri and festive season. People have been demanding the resumption of interstate buses,” he said.
The minister added that more routes and states will be included gradually, and Covid protocols will have to be followed while operating and using the buses.
Public bus services in the state were suspended on March 22, and more than two months later, limited intrastate bus service resumed with maximum 60 per cent occupancy on June 1 during the first phase of the unlock.
Later, the occupancy was increased to one hundred percent, and the routes and frequency of buses were also increased. On September 20, the state government restarted intrastate night bus service beginning with twelve routes initially.
Last week, the Transport Minister had said that around 1,700 services within the state have resumed, including 15 night services. However, losses are being incurred on more than 50 per cent of the routes due to low occupancy, and the HRTC incurred a total loss of Rs 282 crore during the pandemic, he had added.
In July, the state Cabinet had increased the bus fares in the state by 25 per cent for all travel beyond three kilometres and raised the minimum fare by 40 per cent from Rs 5 to Rs 7. The hike triggered protests by the Congress and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and opposition by various other organisations.
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