New normal

The road ahead is still foggy for bus operators

Even as all routes are initiated but low footfall of passengers paints a bleak picture of future

The road ahead is still foggy for bus operators

Punjab Roadways officials have been following all the instructions issued by the State for functioning of public transport after the lockdown but low footfall of passengers has been a niggling pain in the neck.

Charanjit Singh Teja

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 16

Though the government has allowed the inter-state movement of buses in Punjab but for the operators there isn’t much to cheer. The restriction lifted on Thursday saw the Punjab Roadways buses cross the inter-state borders for Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan for first time since the outbreak.

The Punjab Roadways officials have been following all the instructions issued by the State for functioning of public transport after the lockdown but low footfall of passengers has been a niggling pain in the neck.

Amarjit Singh, a conductor for a private bus which operates between Amritsar and Jalandhar, said, “We have clubbed two timings to get more passengers but it is rare when we get 52 passengers for a journey. Around 50 per cent private buses are off the road. The virus badly hit the transport sector.”

Though the situation is gradually normalising in other sectors, but transport sector continues to off the hinges as before the unlocking phase. Despite the fact that there are no curbs on carrying the number of passengers, the operators are finding it hard to get required number of passengers to make the tour financially viable.

Though, Punjab Roadways and PRTC resumed the services but the decline in number of passengers is making the survival hard. “The buses are being sanitised. The passengers are asked to check temperature in case of any illness. Well, the numbers are increasing but hardly acceptable to make the trip viable,” said an employee of the Punjab Roadways.

Inderjeet Singh, general manager Punjab Roadways, feels that the suspension of trains has scratched the wound deeper as both are interlinked. “The buses witnessed low footfall due to suspension of trains in the region. We have reciprocal arrangements with the railway. We feed to the railway by collecting passengers from rural areas. Similarly, railway returns the favour to bus operators by providing passengers for small towns,” Singh explained. Apart from this, education institutes, including colleges and schools, provide bulk of passengers and unless they resume fully the way out of mire seems far off.

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