BEST to encourage social distancing, won’t allow standing passengers from today

BEST to encourage social distancing, won't allow standing passengers from today
BEST took the decision in a bid to avoid crowding and enforce social distancing in their buses as part of measures to contain the spread of novel coronavirus (Representational Image)

Amid rising number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, the state-run public transport bodies MSRTC and BEST have decided not to allow passengers to travel by standing in their buses from Thursday.

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) and Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) took the decision in a bid to avoid crowding and enforce social distancing in their buses as part of measures to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.

As the number of persons testing positive for COVID-19 increased to 47 in the state and scores others admitted at isolation facilities, the state government decided to stop standing journey on buses operated by BEST (in Mumbai) and MSRTC (across the state).

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday.

A senior BEST official said they are not going to allow any passenger to travel standing on their buses from Thursday morning and will do some changes in the operation depending upon the local needs.

“We are going to operate more buses on the crowded route considering the increased need on the routes. Hence, the buses on less crowded routes will be diverted there,” he said.

With around 35 lakh daily commuters, BEST is the second-biggest mode of public transport in Mumbai after suburban locals, which carry nearly 80 lakh passengers.

“Mumbaikars are requested not to travel standing in the BEST buses from tomorrow (March 19) onwards as a preventive measure against the prevailing #COVID19 situation in the city. #BestUpdates #Mumbai,” tweeted BEST.

MSRTC, which daily ferries around 65 lakh passengers across the state, decided to change seating arrangements besides stopping passengers from travelling standing in its buses.

According to an MSRTC release, they are going to allow passengers to sit on alternate seats and a single passenger restricted to per seat for maintaining some distance between the passengers.

“Only 50 percent of passengers of a bus’ total capacity will be allowed to board before the departure and nobody will be allowed to travel standing in the bus,” said the MSRTC release.

BEST, however, will not adopt alternate sitting arrangement for maintaining distance and simply ensure each passenger has a seat while travelling.

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