Though the government’s new restrictions, including allowing the buses to carry passengers up to its seating capacity and banning standing travel. came into effect on Saturday, the staff faced a challenge in enforcing the norms on Monday, which was the first working day.
“Past two days, we were able to manage with less number of passengers. Today, being a working day, no one adheres to the laws or listen to us if we ask them to deboard if all the seats are occupied. However, we did not allow any passengers without masks to board the bus,” said a bus driver at Avadi terminus.
Despite the operation of additional services and officials asking the passengers to maintain social distancing norms, buses leaving the Avadi terminus were fully occupied, with standing passengers as well.
“We have instructed the crew to enforce the government order but what will they do if passengers are adamant? It is for the safety of the passengers we are trying to enforce the norms,” a senior MTC official said, adding that about 400 additional buses were operated during the peak hours on Monday.
Normally an MTC bus would carry 44 seated passengers and 25 standing. “During the peak hours, in certain routes, over 100 persons would travel at a time. So we can’t enforce the COVID norms with the existing fleet of 3,400 buses. We will require at least 5,000 buses to ensure only seated passengers travel in the bus,” the official said.