The government has decided to allow inter-district travel only in buses operated by the state-owned Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) from Thursday.
After being suspended for over five months, passengers will be able to make online reservations for the bus services that will resume operations in phases across the state. The passengers will not require an e-pass for their travel that was earlier mandatory.
The decision is set to immediately benefit thousands of people from Mumbai, who had left for their hometowns in Konkan districts of Sindhudurg, Raigad and Ratnagiri for Ganesh Chaturthi. Around 11,000 passengers have travelled to these districts between August 5 and August 13. They are set to return in the first week of September.
Addressing mediapersons on Wednesday, Transport Minister and MSRTC Managing Director Anil Parab said, “From Thursday, MSRTC’s regular buses, Nimaram buses, Shivshahi, Shivneri and all others will resume operations on inter-district routes. The buses plying on long and medium routes are available for reservations.”
According to an official from MSRTC, while inter-district travel had been allowed, passengers will have to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, including wearing masks and undergoing thermal screening. The buses will still run at 50 per cent of their capacity with only a single passenger allowed on each seat.
MSRTC bus services were completely suspended on March 23 following the imposition of the nationwide lockdown. However, its intra-district operations had resumed on May 22. Since then, around MSRTC 1,300 buses had operated 7,387 trips to ferry around 1.5 lakh passengers per day.
MSRTC buses were also put into use to drop migrant workers to the neighbouring state borders and to ferry essential workers from adjoining districts into Mumbai.