The Regional Transport Authority’s (RTA) recommendation to introduce automatic pneumatic doors in city buses is hanging fire thanks to stiff opposition from the bus operators. District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareeth, who is also the chairman of the RTA, said the recommendation had been forwarded to the State government in view of the bus operators’ objections.
“Operators argue that pneumatic doors develop complaints all too often because of its complex hydraulic system. However, we are awaiting a clarification from the State government within a month,” Mr. Pareeth told The Hindu.
A draft notification of the State government making pneumatic doors mandatory for stage carriers, including city and mofussil services, has also not been finalised because of similar objections from the operators.
At present, only the low floor buses of the KSRTC have pneumatic doors that operate under a slide-glide system controlled by the driver. The door, which has a sensor system, opens only after the bus comes to a complete halt and closes only when all the passengers have either embarked or alighted.
A meeting of the RTA held last month considered making either pneumatic doors or uniformed door checkers with name plates a permit condition for city bus services. This was following frequent complaints were heard at district development committee meetings about accidents owing to absence of doors and door checkers.
Ernakulam Regional Transport Officer B.J. Antony said that it was difficult to identify door checkers without uniforms and name plates. “We have been slapping fines on private buses operating without door checkers. But this is not an effective deterrent. In fact, while the Motor Vehicles Act has specific guidelines about employing conductors and drivers, the law is silent about door checkers,” he said.
Majority of private buses in the city operate without proper doors as the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules make it mandatory only for mofussil services. To cut the cost, the bus operators are not appointing door checkers, making the situation worse.
M.B. Satyan, president, Kerala Private Bus Operators Federation, cited multiple reasons for objecting the suggestion. “Introducing pneumatic doors at both ends of the existing fleet will cost about Rs.60,000 each. The reworking on the existing door will reduce its opening below the legally permissible size. On the other hand, any attempt to widen the door will result in tinkering with the entire body of the bus built to legal measurements,” he said.