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KOLKATA: In a move towards easing transportation woes, West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) will start bus operations on 40 major routes, covering most of workplaces, markets, healthcare, business and banking districts from Wednesday. However, the services will be available from 7am to 7pm and the passengers and the operators will have to follow Covid-19 safety protocols and social distancing norms.
WBTC has already procured PPE kit, gloves, masks for bus drivers and conductors. There is bus-disinfection protocol to be followed after the completion of every trip.
Instead of pressing fixed number of buses on a particular route, WBTC is planning to make the services dynamic, thanks to its ability to track real-time demand. Keeping in mind the heightening travel demand with workplaces being thrown open, the resumption of services will alleviate the commuting trauma of office-goers, said a transport department officer. Buses will ply with 50% passengers.
WBTC MD Rajanvir Singh Kapur said: “More routes have been increased to meet the increased demand of commuters.” Earlier, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had hinted that near-normal situation would be restored from May 27, with all shops, except those in the malls and containment zones, will be thrown open. Most of the business establishments can now operate with 50% workforce.
In the dynamic service system, WBTC will closely monitor the real-time demand of buses and accordingly scale up or scale down the number of buses on those routes. This ensures maximum utilization of fleet and effective deployment of buses on routes where demand peaks at a particular time, said a WBTC officer.
This will also be a kind of warm-up exercise for WBTC before full-scale operations are resumed on June 1. “This is why we will keep a watch on routewise passenger demand,” said the officer. However, private buses are unlikely to resume services on May 27. So, the STU will have to take the load of the huge demand of passengers.
Bus operations will also resume in south Bengal on Wednesday. South Bengal State Transport Corporation MD Godala Kiran Kumar said, “From May 27, we will run 750 buses on all south Bengal routes from 5am to 7pm, complying with all Covid-19 restrictions.”