After a gap of around two and a half months, bus services resumed across the State from today in strict adherence to Covid guidelines.
According to sources, out of around 16,000 buses which provide the biggest share of public transport services in the State, only 2,000 vehicles have started plying on the roads across the State.
As the government has restricted overloading of passengers in the buses as precautionary measure to prevent Covid outbreak, there is a possibility of passengers outnumbering the seat availability as no traveller would be allowed to travel in standing position.
As per ground reports from major bus stands in the State, heavy inflow of passengers has been seen as compared to the number of vehicles.
Meanwhile, the owners of the buses have exuded confidence that the services will gradually normalise in few more days with the full-fledged reopening of economic activities.
Several buses are not in a condition to run due to lack of maintenance as they stood off the road for several days. The vehicles need urgent repairing which have forced the owners to take them to garages.
Badamabadi bus stand in Cuttack, one of the busiest junctions of the State, witnessed heavy congregation of passengers who are seen grappling with shortage of vehicles.
Covid guidelines were thrown to wind due to heavy rush in front of the buses at Badambadi. Bus staff claimed they are strictly adhering to the Covid protocols.
“We have sanitised the vehicle properly before allowing the passengers to enter. We are not allowing passengers more than the number of seats as per government guidelines. But, people should follow the physical distance norms. We are also making them aware,” a bus conductor said.
Intra-state public transport had come to a grinding halt since May 5 after the statewide lockdown was declared in view of an unprecedented surge in Coronavirus cases.
Recently, the government had eased restrictions and allowed bus services with certain conditions. However, the Owners were reluctant to resume services due to financial crisis. The deadlock ended on Saturday after a fruitful discussion between the bus owners' association and the state government.
According to reports, the government has agreed to fulfill most of the demands of the bus owners including tax waivers.